This last weekend saw the first of three English World Magic Cup Qualifiers, here is my experience of the tournament.
When coming to this tournament, I knew a few things about the deck I wanted to play. It needed to have a strong game plan of its own that can just win games efficiently, I had to have some good catch all cards to support the plan and I needed to plan against [card]Delver of Secrets[/card].
Here’s the list I played:
2 [card]Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite[/card]
2 [card]Inferno Titan[/card]
2 [card]Grave Titan[/card]
2 [card]Olivia Voldaren[/card]
1 [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]
1 [card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card]
2 [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card]
4 [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card]
3 [card]Sphere of Suns[/card]
4 [card]Blackcleave Cliffs[/card]
4 [card]Evolving Wilds[/card]
3 [card]Dragonskull Summit[/card]
3 [card]Isolated Chapel[/card]
1 [card]Clifftop Retreat[/card]
2 [card]Galvanic Blast[/card]
2 [card]Go For The Throat[/card]
1 [card]Mimic Vat[/card]
1 [card]Ray of Revelation[/card]
3 [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]
1 [card]Phyrexian Metamorph[/card]
1 [card]Oblivion Ring[/card]
1 [card]Black Sun’s Zenith[/card]
First off, this deck is not completely a Cyrus creation, my freind David Turner did a lot of work on the list and built the original lists which I finetuned and tweaked with him, and together we got to this monstrosity of a list you see before you.
A lot of this deck looks familiar, it seems to have a common starting place with the Frites Reanimator deck, however; instead of dedicating the entire deck to pitching stuff into the graveyard, it has a much better non-graveyard based plan. Yes, you can turn 3 Unburial Rites for Elesh Norn, but you have some decent removal and Liliana to support you, a much better manabase and a little more utility. With Sphere’s you can curve into turn three Day of Judgment, Olivia or Solemn then into a Titan, giving you lots of lines of play to choose from to take the game in different ways.
I had to play Lingering Souls since it’s probably the best card in Standard right now, and obviously the synergy here is strong. As soon as Dark Ascension was released, I wanted to be running Faithless Looting and Lingering Souls, and this to me, feels like the best possible way to run both. Faithless Looting is a card I’ve talked about a lot, its ability to dig hard into your deck for specific answers and sideboard cards is very strong and as soon as you have any action from the graveyard with it, it feels incredible.
The sideboard wasn’t necessarily the ideal fifteen, I was running late and only just managed to register in time, so I didn’t have time to pull out all the cards since I had to collect my deck back off of another player at the venue and therefore couldn’t prepare well enough. I would have liked a [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card] and another Oblivion Ring, as well as a [card]Celestial Purge[/card] or two. I’d probably cut the Shock, the Metamorph and one of the sweepers, probably Slagstorm to squeeze them in.
So, after finishing my decklist during the players meet, I sat down for round one:
ROUND ONE – BW TOKENS (2-1)
Game one couldn’t have gone better, on the play I turn one Faithless Looting, discard Elesh Norn and Unburial Rites. Turn two I make a Sphere of the Suns, and turn three I reanimate. I don’t even know he’s running BW tokens for sure because he never gets to make a creature.
Game two, it’s a pretty slow game, he drops three anthems, whilst I durdle around and make some Spirit Tokens. However he soon starts making massive guys, my life goes down to twelve in the first hit, then four, then I’m dead with him on eleven. I had a useless Whipflare in hand.
Game three was a tighter race, I get pecked away with some tokens, and then sweep them a couple of times. I get my Batterskull killed by a [card]Divine Offering[/card], but eventually I stabilize by hardcasting an Elesh Norn, which pretty much ends the game and allows me to beat down for the win.
ROUND TWO – ZOMBIES (2-0)
Game one he leads with two [card]Fume Spitter[/card] after going down to a six card opening hand , I peck him down with Spirit Tokens, but have a reanimation available, I eventually go for an Inferno Titan which he Metamorphs, we trade Titans and I drop a Grave Titan to seal the deal.
Game two; I mulligan this game, he comes out slowly and makes a [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] before making worthwhile guys. I have a Sever the Bloodline when he plays and equips a [card]Cemetery Reaper[/card] and then the makes a [card]Phyrexian Obliterator[/card] which I Oblivion Ring and begin clocking with Olivia Voldaren. I make a Grave Titan when he makes a [card]Geralf’s Messenger[/card]. Equipping as this stage doesn’t do enough as I can chump block with tokens. We both make Mimic Vats, he has to kill my Olivia with a [card]Tragic Slip[/card] which he can only use on my his turn, so the triggers put her under my Vat for the win.
ROUND THREE – DELVER (2-0)
Game one I catch him off guard with a Whipflare, which gives me a foot in the game, I hit him once with a couple of Spirits before using them to trade. Eventually I stick I Grave Titan after keeping his board down and the Titan gives me the win.
Game two, after he mulls to six this whole game really came down to his [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card]. It hit me for twelve, and after some other damage I was down to six. I had kept his board clear aside from that guy and I managed to reanimate an Elesh Norn to wipe him on the critical turn, and then ride it to victory.
ROUND FOUR – ESPER WALKER CONTROL (2-1)
Game one I mulligan, soon though we both have a [card]Consecrated Sphinx[/card] due to my Phyrexian Metamorph. I draw eight cards in one turn, six lands and two Sphere’s. My opponent makes [card]Gideon Jura[/card] and [card]Curse of Death’s Hold[/card] before killing my Sphinx and beating my face in.
Game two, I know I want to win fast, so I Faithless Looting away a Lingering Souls, so I can flashback it on turn two, then make another copy on turn three, to then flashback on turn four. He has stumbled on land after his mulligan to six and it gives me the time to win with tokens and not need to make a fatty.
Game three, I get hit by some spirits, which I eventually deal with. I drop an Elesh Norn and Wurmcoil and ride them to victory, keeping back an Inferno Titan in hand in case he can sweep my board, but he can’t.
ROUND FIVE – BW TOKENS (2-0)
Game one was a bit close, I’d lost the die roll and mulliganned, he’s started well, but I swept his board, and he seemed to not be drawing much in the way of gas. I make an Elesh Norn and he scoops shortly after.
Game two, we both mulligan, he comes in for some damage, but I manage to get a Wurmcoil down and gain back some life before the Elesh Norn seals the deal like she always does against tokens. I think the BW tokens match up feels very favourable for this deck.
I can ID rounds six and seven to make top eight at this point, although it does put me in eighth so I will always be playing second, but I don’t mind as I get to have a break for a couple of hours and scout the other decks a bit more.
The Top 8
QUARTER FINAL – UW DELVER
This match up feels good generally, but I know there are cards like Geist of Saint Traft who can run away with the game. Also having the deck piloted by Marco makes things trickier, but he doesn’t know what I’m playing exactly as when asking people the only reply he gets is “some kind of Cyrus deck”. I know his build is much like one he spoke about way back at GP Milan, with [card]Midnight Haunting[/card] and equipment.
Game one; he makes turn one Delver, turn two Delver and [/card]Ponder[/card]. So I reply with a Whipflare. However soon I’m staring down at an [card]Invisible Stalker[/card] and [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], but before I can Metamorph to make a Snappy and Whipflare, he equips his Stalker with Sword of War and Peace. I have Spirit tokens, and I what I should do here, is make my Metamorph into a Sword and crack back, to buy me time to drop a fatty. Possibly because I hadn’t played Magic for a couple of hours, or because I’m an idiot, I don’t do this and instead flashback a Faithless Looting to dig for Elesh Norn to go with my Unburial Rites. I realize my mistake halfway through the Looting and make another by not pitching the wrong cards to leave me nothing castable in hand so I can’t shrink the clock of the sword. As you can imagine, I lose this game.
Game two; I feel happy knowing my deck is favoured here though and keep a hand with Ancient Grudge so I don’t get blown out by a sword again. This game becomes a long attrition war, I get two Olivia Voldaren’s exiled by Celestial Purge, and keep up green mana from my Sphere to pay for Ancient Grudge in my bin if I ever need it.
My Liliana grinds away resources till he is pretty much in top deck mode, whilst I have a couple of cards, although they are lands that I’m waiting to pitch to a Looting a draw. He makes some Midnight Haunting tokens and I draw back to back Lingering Souls, then we are left with my souls clocking him for three, whilst his Stalker clocks me for one. I draw a land, he makes a Ponder. I draw a land, he Ponder again. At this point I know he must have a [card]Mana Leak[/card] but I can pay an additional three for any spell.
I draw a Faithless Looting, and cast it twice, only drawing lands which I pitch. He makes a spirit token by copying mine with [card]Phantasmal Image[/card], and his Midnight Haunting is flashbacked from a Snapcaster so we trade resources and his [card]Moorland Haunt[/card] becomes active. Soon I’m down to one spirit after he Mana Leaks his own Delver to get a Haunt token to block with, and he soon has a Stalker and two Snappy, but I’m ahead of the race, he cracks back and my ten life becomes five as his life becomes two, but I don’t draw anything but land, so I need to hold back on blocks to not die, so I go to two. I untap and need to draw one of my three Shocks, an Elesh Norn, an Inferno Titan, or even my Slagstorm for a drawn match, but you guessed, it another land. I’d drawn seventeen lands in the game I think, which was pretty awkward indeed.
However, whilst the second game was unfortunate, I lost the first game of my own volition and was punished by my own mistakes, wheras Marco didn’t make a mistake and deserved to win, which is the way magic should be.
Congratulations to Marco who went on to win the tournament and give us a very good start to our national team.
After the tournament, I feel that this deck was a very good choice, and is better than a conventional Frites list. I’d happily play it again as it feels perfectly suited to the metagame, although with a new large set about to come out, it’s going to shake things up and change the format. Whether this deck will continue to be good we’ll have to wait to be seen, but I would recommend it for now at least.
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.