Before I begin the article, I guess I should introduce myself a bit. My name is Adam Alexander and I am from Northern Ireland (though currently residing in Dublin) I am graduating from my finance degree in about 3 weeks and entering the real world… bills and insurance? I have to actually pay for stuff??
I have had some modicum of success in my Magic career. Qualifying for Pro Tour Valencia with a home-brew UB Korlash deck in Time Spiral block constructed: I proceeded to 2-3 drop the main event (playing TEPS), no real shock there as it was my first major tournament. From there I had been trying to get back on Tour for about 2 years when I decided to quit Magic (like that ever works) just after Lorwyn block. No sooner had I sold my cards then I was asked by DJ Carson to accompany him to GP Paris. My reaction – DISNEYLAND!!!! Why not? Placed 72nd out of 2000+ players. After this success, I decided I definitely was quitting Magic…
Until Nationals 2010… I had no intention of attending but I was qualified on rating and was bullied into going. So I hopped on a bus the night before, arrived at a collector/ friend’s house and threw together an Esper control deck (without Planeswalkers) and made it to top 4 only playing 4 rounds of constructed.
My two main successes in constructed Magic were a direct result of homebrews, so why should this one be any different.
I decided about a month ago that I would attend the PTQ since it was in my back yard and I like free holidays. I had not played competitive Magic since Nationals 2010, but from friends, knew that Caw-blade was the deck to play. Looking over the deck list, the caws themselves seemed weak to me. Whilst generating card advantage, the little dorks were 1/1 flyers which couldn’t block the scary new Sword. It was also vastly apparent that, in the mirror, whoever cast the first [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] generally won.
I do not like the idea of blaming variance for losses in the mirror. I like a deck to be able to pull a game from the jaws of defeat. Another whisper on the wind was a [card]Splinter Twin[/card]-Exarch combo deck. I liked the combo itself, but it seemed weak against hate and had no real reach.
I decided that Exarches were just better than [card]Squadron Hawk[/card]s in the mirror, as they guarantee you the first Sword/[card]Batterskull[/card] hit even if you are on the draw. If Exarchs are in the deck, the addition of [card]Splinter Twin[/card] gives the deck reach in the long game, and can break stalemates. It also gives you a win condition against Soul Sisters. So without further ado, the list:
ExarchBlade by Adam Alexander
3x [card]spell pierce[/card]
2x [card]divine offering[/card]
4x [card]stoneforge mystic[/card]
3x [card]into the roil[/card]
2x [card]tumble magnet[/card]
1x [card]sword of war and peace[/card]
2 x [card]Jace Beleren[/card]
4x [card]deceiver exarch[/card]
2x [card]day of judgement[/card]
3x [card]splinter twin[/card]
3x [card]Jace the Mind Sculptor[/card]
1x [card]Gideon Jura[/card]
1x [card]consecrated sphinx[/card]
3x [card]scalding Tarn[/card]
2x [card]Arid Mesa[/card]
4x [card]Seachrome Coast[/card]
2x [card]celestial Colonnade[/card]
2x [card]tectonic edge[/card]
1x [card]mystifying maze[/card]
1x [card]sun titan[/card]
2x [card]divine offering[/card]
3x [card]leyline of sanctity[/card]
1x [card]day of judgement[/card]
2x [card]celestial purge[/card]
Unfortunately I did not take notes of the matches but I will do a brief recap from memory.
Side note 1: A total of 15 minutes testing was done with this deck prior to the tournament to ensure the mana base worked like the math said it would.
Side note 2: There were 38 players at the PTQ
–Wait… Game loss for him as well!
I keep a hand with some Exarches and an [card]Into the Roil[/card]. He starts with a [card]Spikeshot Elder[/card] and a Koth. My life total drops to 12 vs. his 17, I [card]Preordain[/card] into the combo and win.
Round 2: Mike… Local Shop Owner – Hawkward.
G1. All he sees is the combo and I kill him on turn 6.
G2. He has side boarded for the combo, I turn2 [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card] and go to town.
I get blown out both games by keeping shaky openers and his discard. Most notable in G2 I cast and get to use 3 Jace variants and still get no more than 6 lands L cough *variance* cough.
Round 4: Jake… I think. Sorry dude. Caw blade.
G2. I do that to him (after casting my [card]Splinter Twin[/card] with a [card]Spellskite[/card] in play, but let’s not mention that!).
G3. 2 minutes on the clock… No matter how fast I play, I cannot hope to combo off in time… ID.
G1. He gets an [card]Inferno Titan[/card] and my life drops to 6, then I combo’ed and win.
G2. He was never really in… He only drew a handful of spells cough *variance* cough.
G1. Goes long… really long. My [card]Tumble Magnet[/card]s and [card]Mystifying Maze[/card] keep his equipped dorks and [card]Emeria Angel[/card] at bay long enough to let me stick a [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card].
G2. 15 min on clock. I get stuck on 4 land for ever and scoop with 6 minutes left.
Myself and Conor are good friends, and we are both on the bubble. If this game goes to time, it could get awkward. So we play, post-haste.
G3. I combo turn 5/6 and that’s all she wrote.
G1. Brandon gets an active Jace first, but I am able to bounce it and stick my own, along with a [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card], riding the 8-12 cards to victory.
G2. I can’t really remember, I [card]Splinter Twin[/card]ned a Stoneforge at one point for my final Sword.
Semis: Mark McGovern – Soul Sisters.
G2. I combo off.
G3. I cast my combo and almost go for it, before realising that Mark has 2 sisters in play which would insta-kill me. I bounce both next turn and kill.
G1. Variance in my favour – 3 land 2 Stoneforge, Jace. My first Stoneforge gets [card]Batterskull[/card] and her throat torn out. The second one gets [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card]. My [card]Batterskull[/card] meets a main deck [card]Manic Vandal[/card] and dies. The Sword sticks and I win.
G2. Yayy variance loves me – basically the same hand as above. Dave has a more aggressive hand and gets a lot of guys out. I have a Sworded Exarch on board vs. his Lacerator, Vandal, Highborn and [card]Bloodghast[/card], (with [card]Dark Tutelage[/card] on board). I DoJ with Gideon and [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] in hand and 5 lands, with him on 10 life, planning on riding Gideon to victory. He gets [card]Duress[/card]ed (obv) and I miss land for a turn or 2 while he gets guys again. I draw Exarch to stem the tide and [card]Preordain[/card] into a Twin for the victory and the blue envelope.
I really enjoyed playing this deck. It seemed to have a good match up against the Caw-blade variants, and was able to pull a victory from the jaws of defeat. I would not change the main board but the sideboard needs updating. The white Leyline is bad. Full stop. And I didn’t use [card]Dismember[/card]s at all. My current thoughts are 4 [card]Mental Misstep[/card]/1 [card]Celestial Purge[/card] or 3 [card]Mental Misstep[/card]/2 [card]Spellskite[/card].
The deck has two very different modes of play while only really requiring 3 cards to facilitate the inclusion of the combo variant.
I do not by any means think that I have made a format defining deck; rather, this article aims to show that innovation in a stagnant format can sometimes pay off.
Thanks for reading and keep innovating,