Crucible of Words – GP Lyon Report: Trunk In My Junk by Cyrus Bales
Last weekend was GP Lyon; I’d spent some time testing and was pretty sure the field was going to be Jund, UW, Affinity, and various combo decks. So I set out with beating the big three decks as my main aim, I attempted a few lists and tested a decent amount and then I happened upon the Junk Rock deck that Calcano played at PT Return to Ravnica.
I played a few games with it and crushed Jund and UW pretty effectively, so I began tuning it. He was running a couple of Liliana of the Veil which often felt pretty awkward, as making some of the combo decks discard one card here and there didn’t do a great deal, neither did the singleton Restoration Angel which was just a fine man, but nothing special. I ended up chopping up the manabase and some of the deck and came to the following list:
Trunk in My Junk
4 Deathrite Shaman
1 Noble Hierarch
4 Dark Confidant
2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Loxodon Smiter
3 Doran, The Siege Tower
3 Kitchen Finks
1 Baneslayer Angel
4 Path To Exile
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Profane Command
2 Inquisition of Kozilek
4 Verdant Catacomb
4 Marsh Flats
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Godless Shrine
1 Temple Garden
1 Murmuring Bosk
2 Horizon Canopy
2 Treetop Village
2 Stirring Wildwood
I knew I wanted to play the Deathrite Shaman, Dark Confidant and Tarmogoyf core, since it’s frankly amazing. Thalia gave me another two drop who did a lot of work in a lot of match ups in this especially heavy creature deck. When comparing with Jund, you lose Bloodbraid Elf but get Path To Exile, Loxodon Smiter, Doran and Stirring Wildwood(who beats Villages in combat, and blocks Restoration Angel and Vendillion Clique. To make up the card advantage Calcano was running a Horizon Canopy and a Profane Command; I took these on board and upped the Canopy count by removing a fetch land, and also wanted a 2/2 split with Villages and Wildwoods unlike his 3/1 split in favour of Villages.
The main way this deck operates, is by being bigger than your opponent. Your creatures can beat through Restoration Angel, and win combats versus most creatures in the format. The addition of Baneslayer Angel was definitely a good plan, as it just dominates the board once it hits. In testing I rarely drew Profane Command, but there were a lot of games I would have won if I drew it from a losing position.
Loxodon Smiter is the big appeal of this deck for me; he lets you carry on playing the game in the face of open blue sources and gives you free value from an opposing Liliana, whilst also winning combats against some Tarmogoyfs and more importantly Restoration Angels. Kitchen Finks usually felt like the weakest card in the deck, I debated replacing him with Blade Splicer but I felt comfortable enough with the power of my other three drops and the life gain was relevant in some match ups, especially with this manabase.
Sideboard wise, I wanted a wide array of tools that could handle different decks, there’s the obvious affinity hate which can act as hatred for the Eggs decks, and there’s some tools that also come in handy against Storm. Engineered Explosives and Maelstrom Pulse were a couple of catch all answers, Explosives ignores Thalia’s effect and both of these answers are strong against the BW tokens deck like the winner of GP Yokohama; Martyr of Sands deck also hate to see this artifact hit the board. I chose Extirpate as my graveyard hate, since it doesn’t allow an Eggs player to go off in response and it doesn’t target the player so dodges Leyline of Sanctity.
So, the tournament! I only had one Bye, being short by only a handful of points was pretty embarrassing, but I was happy enough with my deck that didn’t mind playing a few extra rounds.
Round Two – BG Vengevine/Dead Vegetables (2-1)
Loxodon Smiter did all kinds of work here, making his Liliana of the Veil and his Smallpox practically win me the game; he even inquisitioned my elephant once. I was in control for both the games I won, the second game was a tight one, but he managed to take it off of the back of an early Smallpox whilst my lands were not forthcoming, and the ones that were there happened to come into play tapped.
This match up felt good though, Deathrites did their work, Doran shrank his guys and my guys were big enough to blank his things.
Round Three – UW (2-0)
I attacked his hand early and saw I was unable to get down a two drop through his Spell Snare, so I played out to three drops and waited for a chance to make Thalia later on. He passed one turn clearly holding up a Mana Leak, Smiter came down and made his turn a bit of a waste. Then he was backpedalling, forcing him into dropping creatures which gave me a shot to make Thalia and friends. Smiters ate through his Wall of Omens and neither game was remotely close at any point.
This match up feels pretty solid, sure it goes better if you draw a Smiter or hand disruption, but your threat density is very high, and they all end up being must answer cards which their removal is not up to. Save your Path’s for Angels or Colonnades and every else dies in the combat step, including their Cliques if you have a Wildwood, use Abrupt Decay sparingly in case they have a sword and you’re sorted. And obviously don’t play into post board Supreme Verdict.
I don’t remember a lot about this game, aside from my guys all being bigger than his and his life never hitting thirty. I used discard to make his Martyr never very relevant, and took away some Ranger of Eos in one of the games. Engineered Explosives netted a nice 3-for-1 in the second game but I was miles ahead in both games, with the ability to play around a potential Honour of the Pure if one would arise.
Round Five – Kiki Pod (0-2)
This is probably the worst match up in the field. Once he made his turn two Wall of Roots I was in trouble. It’s one of the few relevant blockers in the format. Despite his mulligan to five, he managed to power through both of my removal spells and windmill me out of the game.
Game two saw me mulligan to five, I played my Stony Silence but he naturally drew his Qasali Pridemage, and has his singleton Cunning Sparkmage the turn before to eat up my Dark Confidant before I could get any cards to undo my mulligan. Easy win for my opponent.
I do not like the Pod deck as a match up. I could run some Aven Mindcensor in the board perhaps, but it doesn’t feel special. The Stony Silence makes the game fairer, but it’s not ideal, this player went on to top 8 the event so I can’t feel too bad about the loss.
All my friends had been moaning about all the Jund match ups, and I finally got one. I don’t remember much about the games, they were very similar to the games in testing. Game one, I hurt myself with lands whilst he didn’t touch me, my creatures outclassed his on the battlefield and I took the game comfortably.
Game two went his way, I mulliganned and kept a reasonable hand, but he had removal for my Goyfs and some Bloodbraid Elves to go with them whilst my third land drop was a little too late. Game three was back to normality, I got a nice triple Goyf hand, although if any of them had been Doran’s or Smiter the game would have actually been easier to close out. Path cleared out his men and he was on chump block duty till I beat him.
Pretty much as the testing was, Junk beats Jund, their Villages lose out to your Wildwoods, your creatures are bigger and your removal is better.
Round Seven – Red Affinity (2-1)
Game one was a fast start for him, but I caught up and began attacking. I needed him to make a mistake, he was very vocal about his Signal Pest triggers, but on the last attack he didn’t mention them and I had him dead on the swing back. I moved to damage and told him he “forgot” his triggers, he obviously protested a bit, but I was pretty happy with my affinity match up and didn’t want to the asshole. After all, if you attack with Signal Pest and men, it’s pretty obvious you want triggers from it, so I let him have it and take the game in the interests of being a decent human being.
Game two I went to six cards, and him to five, his five wasn’t that great and I just stomped him. Game three I showed him the power of Thalia and Stony Silence as he couldn’t cast his spells. There was a bit of a race on, but Deathrite made sure everything turned out alright in the end and I beat him with double digits of life to spare in the end.
Affinity can get a little scary, but hanging in there and keeping their board under wraps is key, if you hit your blowout Creeping Corrosion or Kataki, then it’s job done, but Stony Silence also helps with that a great deal.
The win and in round number one began with him mulliganing to five, then setting up a roadblock of a wall. I picked him away for a while as various combo pieces came together, this game went super long and he played around my removal by using his Chord of Calling to get a Restoration Angel (He already had a Deceiver Exarch in play) at end of turn. However he then made and used his Birthing Pod to find the last piece, seeing I didn’t have any black man from my lands, he went to two, but forgot I had double Deathrite to finish him off in response.
Game two was long as well, life gain from Finks and Phantasmal Image put us in top deck mode, however eventually he drew his combo before I could clock him.
Game three was a similar affair, I mulliganned but found a Stony Silence which I set up quickly. I had to make an Engineered Explosives for four to stop him killing me with Restoration Angel, since my Dark Confidant had given me a bit of a rough time card wise. I end stepped Disenchanted my own Stony Silence, untapped and blew it up, then cast another Stony Silence to keep the game going. In the last turn of extra time he put me to one and most definitely had the win if the game continued thanks to his Sigarda, Host of Herons and Zealous Conscripts. As it was, we drew.
For a win and in round, this was not what I wanted, I was surprised to see double pod match ups in day one, but I had another round to get in so was confidant.
My opponent was on one more point than me, and as he was a pleasant chap, I told him I’d scoop to him in the event of a draw, but I doubted it would come to it.
Game one my opponent came out a little slow, but was clearly on the Serum Visions into Delver of Secrets plan. I hurt myself a bit with land and made some fat guys after seeing what to play around in his hand. The Smiter was a huge issue for him, since he wasted a turn to hold up Mana Leak, and then couldn’t deal with it on the board. His discarded Vedalken Shackles made my Goyf bigger than normal and I bashed through for the win.
Game two was a bit of an attrition war. I got him down to six life, then he went up, then to six again, then to two, but his triple Huntmaster of the Fells was a little backbreaking, and my last draw needed to be a land for my Baneslayer Angel or a creature to block with, or a removal spell. Thoughtseize? Thanks a lot deck, off to game three.
Game three for him was Delver, into Delver. He didn’t flip them right away, so I had time, but it allowed me to make a Thalia and wreck his burn plan a bit. I made more guys and killed a Delver only to see it replaced by another, a lot of back and forth, he needed to draw a non-shock land and have two burn spells in hand to win otherwise it was mine. He flips the top of his deck with a mountain… and that was all she wrote. A Kitchen Finks during that game would have been enough, or a pulse etc, but it was not to be. My opponent was a really nice guy and I wished him well in day two.
The RUG matchup is interesting, I did feel a little unlucky to lose, the triple Huntmaster draw was pretty much the only sequence of events that could have got him back into game two, and the land off the top combined with drawing four burn spells in game three coupled with my own lack of removal gave me comfort in the deck’s ability. As a magic player, it’s important to know why you lost and not make excuses, however the two often sound the same. I’d be pretty happy to play RUG in a tournament with this deck in future though.
Final Record: 6-2-1
My second GP with this result, but at least I deserved to lose the draw this time unlike before.
What would I change in the deck?
Well, the format is shifting a fair bit, it seems we have UW, Jund and the combo deck of the week as the best decks, and then a lot of tier two decks. So having a deck with good match ups against the best two decks overall feels exactly where you want to be. Profane Command was a waste of space for me, I never cast it and a couple of times drew it without a readily available second black source; another Abrupt Decay is probably a fine choice here. As for the Kitchen Finks, I’m really uncertain about their future in this deck; they feel like a necessary evil that is constantly underwhelming.
Sideboard wise, I’d change things depending on what the field was, additional discard, Mindcensors etc are all fine options to tinker around with. Extirpate didn’t pull its weight much and could be swapped out for other cards, at least one copy for sure.
Overall, if I went to play a Modern event next week, I’d take this deck and be pretty happy about it. Anyway, I hope that’s given you some food for thought and put some Trunk in your Junk!
Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing.