Weird Modern Leagues and Cycling Adventures

Getting the Magic Bug means travailing and traversing a variety of formats and for once, I’ve actually brought some diversity to my decklists.

 

Standard has been freed from the shackles of Felidar Guardian, meaning I’ve (digitally) sleeved up a 75. With no intent of getting stuck into the free-for-all that the format entails before something comes up best, I’ve put on my old man slippers and gone for the comfortable feeling of a control deck:

UR

While I’ve not built it, this is just my jam to relax to. Ever since it was granted to us I’ve been jamming Torrential Gearhulk (or as I like to call it, ‘Sploosh’) everywhere I can find. I might have been tried it in Modern, once or twice. This feels like the best shell for it since it returned though – Censor and Essence Scatter have solved the issue of having too little to do early on and Pull from Tomorrow is the blue draw spell I’ve been waiting for since Dig Through Time rotated. I can’t emphasize enough how powerful this card is. I’m sure we’ve felt the satisfaction of a successful Glimmer. It’s nothing compared to drawing eight which honestly, isn’t even that uncommon an outcome.

So far, I’m unbeaten with the deck in random pick up games, covering everything form the bogeyman Mardu Vehicles to SaffronOlive Special Panharmonicon. 5-0 isn’t a bad start, but I’m sure leagues will drag that right down to average.

As for Modern, as all the big paper events I play are Modern, it’s got me with the old favourite, Merfolk. A week or so back I played in the world’s largest GPT (298 players) and piloted it to a 6-3 finish, with losses only to some unfavourable matchups (Scapeshift, Ad Nauseum, GW Prison). I have to admit, I didn’t even particularly play well despite getting a win over a former GP winner (in the Modern format) – it was one of those days where Merfolk just kind of does its thing. That’s the nature of the deck – you can always rely on it to keep ticking over and you just try and eek out every advantage you get.

Jamming a league tonight is peppered with some of the weird non-games with quirks you get in Modern sometimes – my somewhat infamous ‘One land + Aether Vial’ hand gets obliterated by a Turn 1 Ingot Chewer. A Dredge deck piloted by ‘davidbowie; completely folds to Cursecatcher in two games straight. A Storm player uses Past in Flames then realises they have no red mana to fire off rituals, pause for two minutes and pass the turn. Naturally, they still win. One opponent I beat 2-0 and when it is finished, I still have no idea if they were on Storm or a UR Control deck. I end the second turn of a game with three Cursecatchers in play. All this flies by with an end result of 2-3 in a haze of background streams and Chicken Soup as I desperately try not to get subsumed by missing my fiancee, who is back at University. I also lament the fact I didn’t switch back to main board Spell Pierce after facing off against combo in four of five rounds (Yes, Dredge counts.)

Constructed ends the night at 1669.

Amonkhet Draft is up next. In my constant pursuit of making Cycling work, I ended up with this, which felt pretty satisfying. Still not sure about 16 lands, though.

Draft1

I think our first opponent likely hates us. Both games they get off to a fast start involving Hapatra, Vizier of Poisons and various low to the ground creatures, only to run into Rags to Riches. Edifice of Authority and a slew of removal/mind control effects lock up the game. Lay Claim on Champion of Rhonas was the final straw.

The second match goes much the same way, although our opponent has Hapatra’s Mask to nix our plans of stealing Archfiend of Ifnir. As you can imagine, the Archfiend then nixes our plan of winning the game. The third the plan works again. I’m not saying having Drake Haven and Faith of the Devoted out at once takes me to my happy place.

And then I realise I’ve played 10 games of Magic today.

Is that too many?

Nah. There’s GP Copenhagen to practice for!

Limited Rating: 1660.

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Aether Revolt Game Day Victory!

I’ve been playing a fair bit of standard in preparation for some upcoming PPTQs and one deck I have particularly enjoyed the heavy Energy Variant. Although missing some of the cards, I was able to settle on the version below:

EnerBG Game Day.PNG
The deck is enjoyable to play and has a fair bit of interesting decision making and power, both early on and late in the game. The deck has two key axis it plays on. The first is the now well-established Black/Green counter synergies, relying on Winding Constrictor, Rishkar, Peema Renegade, Walking Ballista and Verdurous Gearhulk to make creatures huge, or in the case of Ballista, make a machine gun that mows down the opponent’s board. The second key axis also leans on the Constrictor a bit, but tries to take advantage of the Energy mechanic with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Greenbelt Rampager and Longtusk Cub to get creatures well above rate for their mana-cost or draw a bunch of extra cards.

 

The first game day ended up with a fourth-placed finish with some interesting results. In one game, two Walking Ballistas ended up so huge I won by removing 18 counters in one go to burn out the opponent. In another, I was able to attack by opponent down to 2 life by the end of the fourth turn. As you can see, the deck goes a variety of ways! The explosive starts were the main route to victory on Saturday, but a loss to CopyCat in the Swiss and the Semi-Final put paid to my hopes.

 

Today’s game day had fourteen players, so it would cut to Top 4 – these situations are always rough, especially with friends – I prefer to haveas many buddies in the Top 8 as possible (had it cut as usual, half the field would’ve been close friends!).

 

The first round I was paired off against a UB Zombies deck. Those decks can always be scary due to the sheer amount of 2/2’s that can be made by Cryptbreaker and Diregraf Colossus. The deck also had some quite terrifying plays at times – off a Gisa and Geralf, a 5/5 Diregraf Colossus was played, bringing back two Prized Amalgams, turning an empty board into a fairly scary one. However, the deck’s lack of interaction with my board state allowed for me to get some massive blockers out and an Aethersphere Harvesters were able to chip away effectively. For the second game, it was simply a case of a quick start involving Constrictor (hereby known as ‘Snake/Snek’) into a Rishkar and Gearhulk.

 

Second up was a sort of mirror match. Up against a strong player with a Jund Energy deck – although some of the synergies are the same, the red allows useof energy focussed cards like Harness Lightning and Voltaic Brawler. The deck also eschews the Snake in lieu of the recursive power of Scrapheap Scrounger and the card advantage and versatility of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. The latter would prove to be a problem in almost every game. It is hard to remember the details of these first games, as all three were intense back and forth games. The pivotal third game highlighted the strength the Jund version had in the mirror – although both decks removed the early threats, a resolved Chandra caused a big issue and put me very behind in card advantage. Eventually it ended up with my Skysovereign and various creatures working together to take down some creatures before the crewing creatures would get removed, but Scrapheap Scrounger could keep coming back to apply pressure. Eventually, one of his creatures survived a Skysovereign hit with a Blossoming Defense, leaving me dead on the swingback.

 

The next couple rounds provided good match ups for us – a GW Modules deck was up first and it was another deck that struggled to deal with the aerial threat of Skysovereign. A mulligan to five for them in game two didn’t hurt our chances. The win and in for the top 8 was against a Red White humans deck that was extremely explosive – as evidenced by having three 2/1’s out on turn two! However, a deck relying on one-power creatures tends to fall prey to Walking Ballista, as was the case. Kalitas in game two was also particularly effective, providing plenty of chump fodder and gaining enough life to get well out of reach. That was enough for the Top 4.

 

The first game of the Top 4 was a little daunting – I was against a BW Midrange deck that knocked me out of both Kaladesh Game Days. It utilises Cultivator’s Caravan, Scrapheap Scrounger, Eternal Scourge and Ayli to grind most decks to a fine paste. I feel fortunate to have escaped that one with a 2-0 – in the first game I had a the typical quick start with Rishkar and a Gearhulk that was too hard to come back from. Game two I felt I won on the first turn – I had played Greenbelt Rampager on turn one, which got fatally pushed in response to the bounce effect. I then rolled out two Glint-Sleeve Siphoner that couldn’t be removed. Left unchecked, they regularly drew two cards a turn and overwhelmed a land-stuck opponent.

 

The final pitched me back against the Jund Energy version again. These games ended up a little less grindy and simpler. One game was another in which having two active Glint-Sleeves drew plenty of card advantage and I was able to win the removal war off the back of it. This meant my pressure ended up too much to keep up with. Aethersphere Harvester again played a strong role in the other game, due to a lack of flying defense – the key play being a Blossoming Defense pumping it to take out Chandra before it could generate enough card advantage,.There was never an answer to the Harvester and that sealed the win.


This is a bit scattered and rushed, but it’s always good to share. If you like powerful decks that are a blast to play and can do silly things, do try BG Energy!