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 Stoneforge Mystic 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 Splinter Twin-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 Squadron Hawks in the mirror, as they guarantee you the first Sword/Batterskull hit even if you are on the draw. If Exarchs are in the deck, the addition of Splinter Twin 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 spell pierce
2 x Jace Beleren
1x Gideon Jura
2x Arid Mesa
1x Gideon Jura
1x sun titan
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!
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 Stoneforge Mystic 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.
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 Inferno Titan 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.
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.
G2. I can’t really remember, I Splinter Twinned 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 Batterskull and her throat torn out. The second one gets Sword of Feast and Famine. My Batterskull meets a main deck Manic Vandal 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 Bloodghast, (with Dark Tutelage on board). I DoJ with Gideon and Consecrated Sphinx in hand and 5 lands, with him on 10 life, planning on riding Gideon to victory. He gets Duressed (obv) and I miss land for a turn or 2 while he gets guys again. I draw Exarch to stem the tide and Preordain 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 Dismembers at all. My current thoughts are 4 Mental Misstep/1 Celestial Purge or 3 Mental Misstep/2 Spellskite.
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,