As some of you may know, I have Worlds coming up soon and so have been trying to cram in as much practice as possible. This tournament report then will include my thoughts about my deck along with reports of my matches and the matchups.
I arrived at Manaleak accompanied by my friend Matteo Orsini-Jones who had come to help with test Standard and to try and win another tournament. Unfortunately for him he had relied on me supplying him with a deck, which just happened to be a very poor Mono Black Control list and duly went 2-2 missing out on top 8. Nevertheless, he had a great time and will be back to challenge us again.air track
This was the list that I played and had been working on for a few weeks:
4 Wall Of Omens
2 Frost Titan
1 Sun Titan
4 Mana Leak
2 Day of Judgement
2 Jace Beleren
4 Jace, The Mind Sculptor
2 Gideon Jura
1 Venser, The Sojourner
1 Elspeth Tirel
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Tectonic Edge
2 Misty Rainforest
As I said, I had been working on this list for several weeks, trying out new cards and ideas since I hadn’t played any Magic since Nationals and felt I needed to catch up and learn about how the new rotation and set had changed the metagame. I made no secret of my love for Venser, the Sojourner and found him to be amazing in the control matchups where he basically will end the game in four turns. For this tournament however, I wanted to try out the other new planeswalker – Elspeth Tirel. At first I had thought that she looked fairly weak and nowhere near as good as the other 5 drops Gideon, Venser and Baneslayer. However, I have quickly learned that this new version of Elspeth is VERY powerful. In fact I would say she is better, in this deck, in this environment, than Elspeth, Knight Errant. Churning out 3 tokens in one go is fantastic against the aggro decks, especially Goblins and Vampires, but where she really shines is in the control mirrors. If you can resolve her, and assuming there isn’t a man land on the other side of the table, then +2ing her basically prevents your opponent from casting their Jace or Titan. She is so good. Try using her with Venser too!
The rest of the deck I think is pretty standard, I much prefer Oust to Condemn or Journey to Nowhere. Ousting Lotus Cobra and Joraga Treespeaker means its way ahead of Condemn, and thats not even mentioning Eldrazi’s and Titans. The fact that it costs 1 mana means its much better than Journey too. But the more you use Oust the more powerful you will see it is. The thing is, you can Oust anything (besides tokens) and get a massive edge. Ousting a meaningless Overgrown Battlement on turn 18 is a very powerful play for a control deck since it gives you something priceless – information. Controlling an opponents draw step is invaluable for a deck that doesnt like to tap out unless it has to. Combine it with Jace of course and you can create a ‘soft-lock’ and control your opponents next few draws which is usually enough time to win with one of your powerful spells. Another note about the deck is the choice of Wall Of Omens over Spreading Seas. This is purely a metagame call, if you expect more ramp go with Seas, more aggro go with Walls.
Round 1 – Joe Fletcher
Joe had been one quite the run lately, notching up 4 marks to his name on the leaderboard but winning the last win-a-box along with the past two FNMs with his Boros deck. I was happy with this matchup though, as I feel like my list is heavily favoured against all the aggro decks. In game one Joe had a quick start with Goblin Guide and Plated Geopede, but my Oust and Wall slowed that down. He seemed to get pretty flooded after that and it wasn’t long before a Frost Titan came and locked up the game. In game two Joe had more threats, but I had more answers. Mana Leaks, Ousts and Gideons slowed him down long enough for Baneslayer to arrive. Baneslayer is an unbelievable creature and her time will come again very soon. What I love about her in this matchup is she totally nullfies Sword of Body and Mind.
Good start to the day, beating the hottest (definitely NOT in the attractive sense) player in the room ;-)
Boros can be quite a scary deck as it offers up so much potential damage in a few hits, so it is imperative to mulligan aggresively if you don’t have some early defense. Oust is fantastic since it can be a turn 1 play, or a turn 3 with Mana Leak up. Their dangerous spells are Stoneforge Mystic, since Sword can be a problem, but realistically if you play carefully then you shouldn’t ever get hit by it. Your answers include Walls, Ousts, Baneslayers and Gideon. Squadran Hawk should be countered (if its the first). Ratchet Bombs are great since they allow you to hit the equipment, but all in all this is a very favourable matchup.
Round 2 – Mark Biddle
Mark is a lovely chap who has enthusiastically been helping me test for Worlds, along with his prodigal son Aaron, as well as offering me his advice on the current decks. I knew Mark would be playing Eldrazi Green since he seems to love that deck as much as I love U/W. In game 1 Mark seems to be a bit mana shy while I have a great hand that allows me to power out a Jace without resistence and from there the card advantage lets me stop a Titan from ever resolving. Game two goes very long and I am set back by some early Acidic Slimes. I manage to stay alive till deep into the round but in extra turns I dont have enough to stop double Terrastadon plus all those elephants.
Eldrazi Green is another scary deck but you don’t necessarily have to play ultra cautiously. Naturally you should always try to stop the Titan, since its the only threat in their deck (along with Eye of Ugin). Ousts again shine here since hitting a Treespeaker early can buy you 2-3 turns, which is priceless. Depending on the game state you could try to play aggressively. I always like to counter the Growth Spasms, Cultivates and Explores because all you really want to do is slow them down. Always be mindful of Summoning Trap and Gaea’s Revenge, though the latter is easily stopped by Baneslayer and Mindbreak Trap. All in all, this again should be a favourable matchup, though you do need to play it well since they have quite large threats.
Round 3 – Jamie Stevens
Jamie had his own brew which was a naya build with plenty of Eldrazi Spawn generators. I could only assume that he was playing with Monument and/or Beastmaster’s Ascension. Game 1 he mulliganed and never really got going after I countered his Nest Invader. Game two was more of the same but this time I managed to have the full team in play – Jace, Elspeth, Venser and the big brother Gideon.
It’s hard to do this since I didn’t see much of Jamie’s deck, but I can say that Jace is pretty good.
Round 4 – Simon Bainbridge
We id’d into top 8 :)
Quarter-finals – Mark Biddle
Mark again and game 1 saw me lock him off 6 mana by bouncing his wall with Jace every turn until I got Frost Titan down with Venser. He was never able to reach 6 mana. Game 2 was a really close game which saw Acidic Slimes knock me down to one land at one point and commenced to beat me down until I was at 2 life. By that point though I had Jace on the board fatesealing every turn, while I continued to Oust his Treespeaker 3 times. This meant that although I was fortunate he hadn’t drawn a Titan or Trap until then, I could control over 6 of his draw phases in a row, meaning that the race between his Slimes and Jace was eventually won by the man, the myth, the legend.
Semi-Finals – Stuart Taylor
Stu was playing Valakut which plays out similarly to Eldrazi Green, though with some notable differences. I won game 1 though Frost Titan and game 2 after we engaged in a counter war – Stu Primeval Titan, Me Mana Leak, Stu Richochet Trap, Me Negate. Both of us now tapped out. Stu Summoning Trap, Me Mindbreak Trap. Pretty cool.
Valakut, is naturally, all about the Titan. Again counter the ramp and do all you can to stop the Titan. He is more important in this matchup than the Eldrazi one. You should play this one much more defensively. Make SURE you do ALL you can to stop the Titan, which basically means don’t be tapping out. They don’t have th einevitablity of Eldrazi Green (Emrakul, the Eons Torn), so you can eventually edge their Valakuts or just run them out of threats. This is again a fairly favourbale matchup postboard as you have many many counters.
Finals – Tu Nguyen
Ah Tu. Playing U/W control. We played this one out a day or two later and let me tell you, it took at least 2 hours. I won game 1 quickly enough since I resolved Beleren and Tu was mana screwed, but two and three I lost since Tu had some threats I couldn’t handle – namely Admonition Angel and 8 Jaces.
Control mirrors are always hard. You never want to be the one to make a move first, yet whoever resolves Jace first is way ahead. You can try to gain an edge by playing Spell Pierce and Negates, but chances are your opponent is playing them too. Land are as ever crucial, so if you have them then it’s best to save your Preordains until later in the game. All your planewalkers are awesome here, Gideon munches on Jace, Jace kills Jace, Elspeth kills Jace and Venser becomes a pseudo Jace with a much faster ultimate. Basically, it’s all about Jace.
Well there you go, my first article for MtgUK! I look forward to all your comments and questions and hoped you enjoyed it. I’m dwefinitely going to be taking U/W to Worlds, though I have made one or two changes that i’m keeping to myself for now ;)