Okay, where to begin (avoiding the obligatory “this is my first evarr report” thing). Suppose introductions are in order, my name is David Bevan, I have been playing Magic since just after Magic 2010 was released, and playing competitively since June 2010. Any who have seen me at events will know me by my outrageous statements, really bad jokes, and my Blue-Eyes White Dragon playmat.
After having qualified for Nats this year on 9th April in Milton Keynes, mtgUK asked me to write up my experiences of the day, so here goes.
Heading into this one, I have spent the last few weeks playing one or another version of CawBlade, in an effort to try and find a comfort zone from which to attack the established order, but trying to break a CawBlade matchup is all well and good, but to date since Besieged was released, I have played a sum total of about 4 CawBlade decks from Games Day till Milton Keynes’ qualifying event, thats about 6 events and roughly 35-40 matches, what’s going on, are we slipping in the UK, am I REALLY lucky at dodging the boogeyman, or are we ahead and realised that CawBlade just isn’t good, I’m gonna guess the middle option.
The week prior, I attended the Reading NQ event, after testing Wafo Tapa’s UB Control list from GP Barcelona (a deck I have much good experience with, and as one of my friends puts it, “play like a boss”) I decided to break up the UWb Cawblade, retire Gideon Jura early and play the deck. Did really well for two rounds, played my best friend, lost and tilted, day over. I continued the misery in the hopes of aiding tie-breakers, got a couple of packs (yay!) and congratulated him as he qualified (congratulations Matt Barnes).
Ahead to this weekend and Friday evening, going over my list, making some tweaks, and after two weeks of heckling, I finally added Tumble Magnet to the deck. All my paper testing was against Mono Red, Valakut (which I helped design w/ awesome tech) and RUG, and online against CawBlade and Jumanji (plus random other decks), generally I feel the deck is really strong, and although I got a slight confidence knock from the American pros saying that “it doesn’t beat CawBlade, its bad, terrible deck etc”, I still decided that with 2 qualifiers this weekend, it was worth playing as the field was generally favourable in the UK meta (lotsa Valakut, and non red aggro decks), now after my (probably) inane rambling, my weapon of choice, UB Control:
MAIN DECK (60 Cards)
SIDEBOARD (15 Cards)
The maindeck list is fairly simple, Ratchet Bomb to the side, as creature decks are expected and Zenith sweeps better, keep the Bombs as they do wreck in particular matchup. 2 Spreading Seas, it’s good and the cantrip is nice, but 4 is too much when you don’t have a weary Jund manabase to prey on, already have Tec Edge anyway.
Precursor Golem is one ommission from the side that might need some explanation, I don’t like them, by all means they are great in some matchups, but their value in the meta I was expecting is negligable, too many Bolts, Into the Roils, Mark of Mutinys etc.
This is a funny one. After tweaking the list, I had one floating sideboard space, after dropping 2 Spreading Seas for Tumble Magnets main (previously in board) I added an Into the Roil and the Second Zenith to the Board, then decided that based on my testing, I didn’t need a 7th discard card from the sideboard, so what to do with this last slot. I went through a few ideas, and random additions and technology such as Mimic Vat and more of already existing cards. I got to thinking that I needed something for CawBlade, something unexpected, but powerful. I asked around friends, forums and the mtgUK chatroom, and Jon Hagan suggested Thada Adel, I laughed, then read the card, wow!
3 mana, 2/2 Islandwalk, and “I can have Swords?” Wooooooo!
Tested it online before I got too excited, and lo, it was a beast, I might even up the count in a more Cawblade heavy field/metagame. It comes down at the point where they are either Preordain’ing and keeping Spell Pierce up, or have just cast Stoneforge Mysticand really don’t see it coming. And in testing I got to play it with surprising regularity, it’s amazing how much this deck draws and filters, card selecti0n is the finest in Standard, no question cannot be answered with this deck. Thada also shines against Boros, for a similar reason to CawBlade as stealing a Bonehoard is basically a Tarmo-Titan :D
Luckily for this one, I kept some light notes, and my pad, which, if i’m going to do this more regularly, will have to become habit I suppose.
37 players in total if memory serves, so 4 slots for Nationals ready to be taken. So, round by round:
ROUND 1 – Phillip (UB Infect).
First round of the day, I’m assuming that he was a local player and of a more casual interest, I remember Jace doing what Jace does, and a Black Sun’s Zenith clearing the Necropedes and Plague Myr for game 1 before Grave Titan did the rest, sideboarding felt pointless, but I did:
– 2 Go for the Throat
– 2 Tumble Magnet
+ 2 Ratchet Bomb
+ 2 Disfigure
Game 2, looking at life totals and memory was him chumping Titan, taking the token damage, then being unable to keep up, fairly straightforward. Onto Round 2.
Between rounds, I always have some folders about, and will regularly indulge in trading extravanganzas, but this time, I was taken in by altered Cube cards (Ball Lighting Electrodes, and the best Fork ever, literally a fork. picked up a couple of Legacy lands, and onto round 2.
ROUND 2 – Paul (Valakut).
I resolved Wurmcoil Engine, and proceeded to beat face, game 1, sideboarding for Valakut is something I am keenly familar to, but varies depending on the build, the groove I found was:
– 1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
– 1 Jace Beleren (3 mana cantrips do not excite)
– 1 Go for the Throat
– 1 Black Sun’s Zenith
– 1 Mana Leak (clunky on the draw as later on is really doesn’t do the work)
+ 2 Flashfreeze
+ 2 Memoricide
+ 1 Duress
Game 2 was all discard, all the time, double discard spell opening hands are saucy. Lost a single point of life this game (probably a sac land) and judging by the -3s to his life, I’m going to say that a certain Pit of Tar may have been the culprit of his demise… Well, that and Memoricided Primeval Titans, seeing that he has Gaea’s Revenge, then ripping another Memoricide to grab it just before he can cast it.
Quick fluid intake, check my friends progress, both 2-0 as well, and on to round 3 where they both face off (76 card Valakut mirror = 3 sad pandas)
ROUND 3 – Stuart Horden (GW Quest).
Game 1 was interesting, I opened on the play with Creeping Tar Pit, and he notes UB Control on his paper (the actually correct call) but it seemed a bit presumptuous, I could be anything of about 4 decks in the format, but what they hey, he didnt have a quest opening, laid a quest later on, hit me down to 14 off of Kor Skyfishers, played out some more guys, and from there Black Sun’s Zenith wrapped him up, then Tar Pit did the rest, also a HUGE nod to Tumble Magnets, keeping the mean green running bean (Vengevine) at bay, I haven’t been a fan of the card until now (only made my list under peer pressure). Sideboarding for this matchup I can not remember, (except for theories of Memoriciding Argentum Armor, thankfully I didn’t make that blunder).
Back with a vengeance and on the play, Venegevine fury killed me in game 2, pretty quick as I recall.
Game 3, back on the play, now this one was interesting, he got a good start with quests, got up to 5, whilst attacking me down to 14 with Skyfisher and Squadron Hawks. Then, he goes and gets Sword of Feast and Famine, which surpises me, being low on lands (hadn’t missed a drop, mind you) and with little board presence, I expected the Armor, but good nonetheless, now, this is the interesting bit, I’m down on life and cards, in my turn, my current 3 being Black Zenith, land and Big Jace. knowing I’d be discarding a card, I play land and Zenith for 3, clearing his board of all execpt a Kor Skyfisher, which is now a 1/2 (has Sword equipped), this leaves the Jace as my only card, and will just get dropped to the Sword, I am not sure whether or not I misplayed, as if I kept the land in 2, Zenith for 2 instead, it still clears the board, but I can dicard the land, and play Jace.
My opponent had 2 lands, some cards in grip and his trusty airborne menace. I think my play was correct in hindsight, as if I hadn’t played the land when I did, I could not be sure that I could win as I eventually did by bashing with Tar Pits. I had noticed the play before I made it, and that was my choice, based on his low land count, thought that getting the clock would be in the best interest. If anyone has input on that, I’m glad to receive comments and critique.
Round 3 over, I run to my friends and demand a damage report, Dan beat Adam in the 76 card mirror (Dan and I worked on the deck, Adam knows Valakut, and changed his list based on testing and Dan‘s previous records. And inevitabley, round 4 is me vs Dan. EPIC SIGH.
ROUND 4 – Daniel Harborne (Valakut).
Game 1 went on for a bit, but never really threatened, I remember counters, discard and riding Jace all the way home.
Same sideboarding as the previous Valakut match.
Game 2 started reasonably well, Liliana and Jace effectively Demonic Tutor. Memoricide is a workhorse in this matchup (as I’m sure you are all aware). Then I make my first n00b mistake. “Memoricide, that on the stack, Doom Blade your Inferno Titan, name Inferno Titan”. DOUBLE FACEPALM it’s the only one.
So, Haunting Echoes of sins past, on to game 3, I strip down his ramp spells and dig looking for Jaces, Memoricides and/or Titans, he gets to 4 mana, casts Thrun, the Last Troll. “Oh”. Clocks on, I start digging for my salvation, the one remaining Black Sun’s Zenith I keep in for this kind of situation, or Titans to keep it at bay, but alas, no dice and a well deserved win for Dan.
Any of my friends will tell you that I tilt, a lot. It’s something that I’ve been trying to get in check, because it wrecks me (like it does anyone) but its especially bad against my friends, because I don’ know if I drop my guard, but stuff happens, they win, and that’s usually the day done for me. But not this day… I keep focus, check my pairings, Round 5, Adam Taslaq, the aforementioned Adam from the 76 card mirror against Dan, and the other friend with me on the day, Sigh.
Round 5 – Adam Taslaq (Valakut).
Sideboarding as against Dan and Paul.
Game 3. This one is better, Inquisition his Battlement, counter ramp spells, resolve Wurmcoil Engine, bash face. 20, 14, 8, concede.
Nervously approach the standings, I’m 4th (phew) tiebreakers are good (Adam and Dan to thank) Dan and Manaleaks own Joe are the top 2, followed by my opponent, Michael Parker, hindsight reveals that Joe and Dan can both draw in, Joe I believe offered the draw, but Dan played it out in fear of standings shenanigans, myself and Michael (who I know is a Red Mage) play our match.
I hate Red. not red as a colour, as the sole colour of your deck in a configuration that does nothing but attack and point burn at face, but for all that (I will never EVER play monored burn decks ever, even if it’s the best deck) I have never played a boring match against mono red decks, this one did not disappoint.
Game 1, Michael is on the play… you guessed it Goblin Guide and attack, reveals a land, and on I go, I play my “Oh, god” turn one. Inquisition of Kozilek. He has kept a solid but not spectacular hand by my recollection, and the onsluaght proceeds down to 6 life, untap, knock on my library, who (what?) answers, Wurmcoil Engine. WINDMILL SLAM, your go sir. Fairly self explanatory there, I go up to 18 life, game 2.
Sideboarding threw up a rare thing, more cards I want to take out than put in, 11 to 9:
– 2 Big Jace
– 1 Baby Jace
– 1 Liliana
– 2 Spreading Seas
– 4 Mana Leak
– 1 Cancel
+ 2 Disfigure
+ 2 Ratchet Bomb
+ 2 Black Sun’s Zenith
+ 2 Flashfreeze
+ 1 Duress
After some thought, I remember what the worlds greatest red mage, Patrick Sullivan, once said; “Fear the Mark”. (of Mutiny). So, I hedged my bets, and added the Into the Roil and 1 Memoricide to make up 60.
Game 2 sees no turn one play this time, as I breathe a sigh of relief for my 2 lander with Preordain and 2 Inquisitions, I rip open his hand, kill anything that he sets up (including main phase Doom Blade to Ember Hauler). From there, I resolve Jace, fateseal any threats out, and clock away with Tar Pits.
Props to my opponent as well, a gentleman from start to finish, I helped him out afterwards with shiny things for his cube (as you do).
Finished 3rd and qualified for Nationals alongside Dan, who’d lost against Joe, but got in. There were three slots after Joe on 16 points, 4 of us on 15, chamiserations to the unlucky guy who just missed out (come to Chesham, we’re tmorrow the 10th, accomodation for the winner plug plug plug plug)
All day and I dodged CawBlade, seems good, although the matchup is favourable if you know what the threats are, but nice not to have to endure the misery.
Blue Black Control is an amazing deck, it has answers to everything, and when the quiz is over, the quizmaster brings the real questions. One way I explained what the deck is like play in a match was:
“A 50 minute break, interrupted by sparce periods of actually needing to care about the other side of the table”.
It really is the pinnacle of not playing fairly in Standard today. It’s also a double-edged sword in that, you can not walk into an event with it cold, unlike some decks past and present, you really need a good scope on the meta, how to play, what to do and what not to do (counter turn 2 Battlement being a common no no). If you have got a good grounding in control magic, and are sick of Birds with Swords, this is the deck for you. It’s really like RUG in the respects that it is underplayed, rediculously powerful, but it rewards the people who know how to play it.
We have few bad matchups, and our good matchups encompass over 50% of the “meta” (Cawblade, Valakut and fringe combo/control decks being the best). Aggro is different, although Vampires is a cakewalk, decks like K-Red, Red Deck Wins, Quest and GW Jumanji all pose problems, but if you know your tools, and where the key threats are, they are mostly coinflips preboard and then adjust accordingly after siding, the only real wildcard being Red.
Jace, the Mind Sculptor: He is a boss, and will be missed. Surely coming to further Standard and Extended metagames near you.
Tumble Magnet: From ensuring I don’t lose, to making sure I win, this card far exceeded all expectations I had, especially in Valakut matches, upkeep tapping of Overgrown Battlements, precombat against Titans, does it all.
Qualifying: First step on the road to worlds, and I get to go with the best of friends, never know… Maybe.
Electrode Ball Lightning: whoever you are, and whoever your card altering friend is, LEGEND!
Not facing CawBlade
2 consecutive rounds against my friends.
Not playing CawBlade, I wanted to play Thada Adel damnit.
Not as much trading as I normally do.
Further mention to Milton Keynes, Kevin and Head Judge Henry Guille did a great job organising and judging, nice location, one of the most convenient I’ve been to, and thoroughly looking forward to going there again.
Thanks for reading, I hope that you made it this far without dying of boredom or my random schpiel, any comments or criticisms, please feel free. This was my first ever report, so go easy… please?