At the recent Magic-Con in Nottingham (PTQ and WMCQ) I played a version of the RWB Reanimator deck I piloted to top 8 at the previous WMCQ. I didn’t have as much time to test as I’d of liked, so my deck changed a bit from the Saturday to the Sunday. However the tournaments were a bit of a disaster, I didn’t Top 8 either day despite not dropping a game till halfway through the day on Sunday.
So what did I change and learn?
Griselbrand was a card I was looking forward to using, I squeezed one into the main deck and was always underwhelmed by it. Sometimes it was just a dead card in hand whilst I was looking at my six mana; at other times he was instead the card I didn’t want to reanimate as I wanted to bring back my Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or Grave Titan. The mana cost makes him really sub-par to hard cast, since you can’t afford to pay that life during the mid-late game and he does nothing against Delver decks. He was cut the following day for more Grave Titan who was excellent throughout.
Bonfire of the Damned was the other main deck addition from the new set. It seemed like my deck wanted to either win very fast with a fatty, or slow the game down and ramp into a fatty, so that little bit of ramp made Bonfire look solid. As we all know, Bonfire is absurd when you miracle it, however I found it incredibly underwhelming at all other times of the game. In terms of being a sweeper, at that cost Day of Judgment was better, and for the small fires, Whipflare did a lot more work. Bonfire was poor and got cut from the deck pretty quickly.
Liliana of the Veil, she was oddly one of the weaker cards at the previous WMCQ, which is why she took a brief backseat for Bonfires, but this didn’t work out and she was phenomenal all weekend, going back up to a four of for the Sunday. Yes, Restoration Angel makes her less impressive, but she can put herself out of being one-shotted, and being able to drain resources from a Delver heavy field puts you way ahead. There were times she wasn’t great, but I can’t imagine not running four of her in this world of Delver’s.
Restoration Angel has affected the meta more than any card in the new set, and because of this, the deck needs main deck spot removal. Go For The Throat was my card of choice as Olivia Voldaren and Lingering Souls could eat up an Inkmoth Nexus if needed and no other artifact creatures were that threatening. A single Oblivion Ring did a lot of work in the deck as well. I found in terms of playing around the Angel, I’d often not make a play whilst my opponent has their mana up, so I could kill the angel they flashed in. I didn’t mind the alternative of neither of us doing anything for a turn as my late game was stronger and the ability to hit the Angel straight away was game winning.
So, what does the deck look like now:
3 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
3 Grave Titan
2 Olivia Voldaren
2 Solemn Simulacrum
4 Lingering Souls
4 Faithless Looting
3 Unburial Rites
2 Go For The Throat
2 Day of Judgment
4 Liliana of the Veil
3 Sphere of Suns
1 Oblivion Ring
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Isolated Chapel
3 Dragonskull Summit
1 Clifftop Retreat
4 Evolving Wilds
2 Oblivion Ring
1 Doom Blade
3 Pillar of Flame
1 Karn Liberated
1 Ancient Grudge
2 Timely Reinforcements
1 Mimic Vat
1 Wurmcoil Engine
1 Day of Judgment
1 Sever the Bloodline
1 Slot to play with depending on the field.
A few brief notes, the deck is pretty much pre-boarded for Delver, the Wurmcoil and Sever sitting in the board instead of the main. Oblivion Ring is becoming stronger now, since Planeswalkers are sitting in the Delver sideboards and even main decks, bringing in Ancient Grudge can be bad if they board out their swords, but Rings are a fine catch all even if they board out swords. The sideboard largely speaks for itself though.
So, what went wrong at Magic-Con?
I feel the tweaks I made after Saturday improved the deck a lot, and with the same deck on the Saturday I could have top 8’d, but it took me that tournament to fine-tune it some more. On the Sunday, my list was as above and thus a better one, after winning the first three rounds 2-0, I was doing well. The two rounds I lost to take me out of contention were as follows:
DELVER – This is the reason Delver is the best deck, even with a list like mine that should beat Delver most of the time; they do get draws that just destroy you. This happened two games in a row where I literally couldn’t do anything to beat his onslaught of Insectile Aberrations and Angels with back up Snappies. Magic is all about the right cards in the right order, and my opponent had them for sure.
SOLAR FLARE – This was not a deck I was expecting to see and did not have a thorough sideboard plan for it, but still had some tools. However his recurring Nihil Spellbomb every turn was pretty devastating, and one game, I made a Grave Titan into an open board and passed, he was out of cards. By my next turn he had three Sun Titans and his own Grave Titan. That match up felt more than a little bit rough; especially since I played half of the first game thinking he was Delver Spirits judging by the cards I saw!
The deck though, feels pretty fine and has a lot of the cards you want to be running in order to tackle the format, but the potential to just lose to a strong Delver draw if your draw is a little weak is always there and makes it problematic. At times the deck played like a Grixis Control list, destroying everything before hard casting a fatty and getting it to stick, but the occasional clunky draw has disheartened me somewhat. I would still be happy enough to pilot this deck at a competitive event until I find a new way of tackling the meta that doesn’t involve a lot of mirror matches.