Riding Coat-Tails All the Way to Grand Prix Atlanta

It’s often that I have to miss playing Magic on the weekend for various reasons (girl, work, family, hangover, nice weather, Diablo III addiction, etc.). My friends will remind me that there is a PTQ, GPT, SCGIQ, or some other combination of letters that means I should be playing magic that weekend and I will have to turn them down. Finally, I manned up and made a point to go play at an Atlanta Grand Prix Trial after Adam, our favorite RoxieCards.com editor, reminded me that the format was legacy.
This situation reminded me of how often Andrew Schneider, fellow Roxie Cards writer and roommate, calls me a bad magic player. He doesn’t mean that I’m bad at playing the game, he actually thinks I’m pretty good, but he means that I’m bad at being a magic player. I don’t follow when all the events are. I skip playing when I feel lazy. I get tired of playing after sitting too long. Though, I do keep up with tournament reports and the current decks in the metagame.
Lucky for me, I have friends that are great magic players and I can ride those coat tails!
Finding a good group of friends is essential to being a good magic player. You need people to build decks with. You need people to playtest with. Friends make it easier to travel to events. They lend you cards. They watch you play and tell you when you’re bad. You’ll never reach your full potential unless you have people to help you get there. It may sound sappy, but my friends are awesome and I’d probably be a terrible Magic player in all aspects without them. So, I suggest you find some of your own if you want to be good like me.
Speaking of friends, I want to introduce you to my new best friend: Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. It’s no secret that she is an excellent creature in Maverick, my legacy deck of choice, but she is especially good right now with all of the spells people are trying to cast. I won that Grand Prix Trial that Adam told me about, and I learned just how effective Thalia is against everything right now. Most of my wins were thanks to her.
Here’s what I played:

4 Mother of Runes
4 Noble Hierarch
3 Qasali Pridemage
3 Scavenging Ooze
3 Thalia, Guarian of Thraben
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Scryb Ranger
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Elspeth Knight-Errant
2 Sylvan Library
2 Umezewa’s Jitte

2 Forest
1 Plains
4 Savannah
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wasteland
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Karakas
1 Maze of Ith

Sideboard
2 Gut Shot
2 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Stony Silence
1 Circle of Protection: Red
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Linvala Keeper of Silence
1 Jubilation Angel
1 Gideon Jura
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Tower of the Magistrate

Comments on the Deck
The main deck is pretty standard, although fauna Shaman is pretty common now, and Sylvan Library is less common. Basically I’m trading one for the other. Sylvan Library lets me dig through my library in a different way than Fauna Shaman. It’s hard to lose a long game with Sylvan Library in play, a lot of times your opponent doesn’t know how bad he/she is losing to that card. Ponder every draw step, and draw an extra card if you need to.
The sideboard is terrible in my opinion. Gut Shot and Gideon need to go. Phyrexian Revoker isn’t great for what I want it to do. Tower of the Magistrate is on the chopping block, but it is good against stone blade. COP: Red isn’t really the best, but it was good at stopping burn, u/r delver, and Progenitus. But Progenitus isn’t being played anymore.

Here’s my obligatory tournament report.
Round 1 Dredge 2-0
Game 1: Opening hand on the play. Land, Land, Thalia, Ooze, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter… The hand was solid against just about everything. I played a misty rainforest, my opponent drew a card then passed turn to discard a dredger. I untapped played Thalia, he does nothing the next turn but dredge, I untap and play ooze with 1 green open. Easy game. (Interesting note on this game: I think my opponent tried to game me by getting me to show my hand before he named a card from Cabal Therapy. He cast it, then looked at me expectantly until I asked what card he was naming from my hand. He scooped up after I asked. I’m not sure what he was thinking, but it was strange. Maybe he thought I was bad. He was probably right.)
Game 2: I lose to his second turn 8 zombies and an enormous Golgari Grave Troll.
Game 3: My hand gets torn apart by Cabal Therapy before I can play Thalia or Ooze. Luckily he didn’t have any bridges when he was sacrificing his Narcomebas and the board stayed clear. I had 0 in hand and luck sacked a Bojuka Bog off the top followed by Graffdigger’s Cage.

Round 2: Aggro Loam 1-1-1
It turns out that I was paired against one of my friends, Ryan. He just started playing Aggro Loam after giving up on Dredge. We were talking about how he feels really good about his Maverick matchup. I wasn’t sold, but I haven’t tested the matchup much and he said he’s been playing against Maverick a lot.
Game 1: This game was a struggle. He had to fight through multiple Mother of Runes, while I had to not screw it up. Eventually he got a Seismic Assault up and running. I played a Scavenging Ooze, and didn’t realize I should be exiling his Loams until it was too late. A Qasali Pridemage would have been nice and would have locked up the game, but the draws didn’t happen.
Game 2: We had 11 minutes left for 2 more games. I won a quick game 2 in about 7 minutes. Nothing special, just beats.
Game 3: Unintentional Draw. No big deal, at least it was against a friend. He ended up making top 8 with a good standing because of it.

Round 3: High Tide 2-1
Game 1: I lost this game, but it was fun. Thalia really showed her might in all my matches so far and this one was no exception. She is just a fantastic card. I played her on turn 2 after Mom and Cavern of Souls. There was hardly a way he could interact. I almost had the game locked if I could get a Gaddock Teeg into play. He never made it to the party, and I got to watch the High Tide player sweat over maths with Thalia in play. It took him a few turns to get the right hand, and I had him to just a few life before he had to make a risky attempt at combo-winning. In retrospect I should have used Scavenging Ooze to eat his High Tides to prevent him from drawing them again after Time Spiral. It could have won the game for me.
Game 2: Thalia and Teeg make a great couple. My opponent didn’t want to stick around for the P.D.A., so he scooped. I also got to play Sylvan library and snap-draw 3 cards paying 8 life. It was a great feeling.
Game 3: I had fun this game. My hand was hard to beat. I had Ethersworn Cannonist and Thalia in my opening 7. I played Thalia, Remand. Play Thalia again, Remand. Play Thalia a third time, Brainstorm-Force of Will pitching blue card that I can’t recall. Seems like a FANTASTIC time to play Canonist and cherish the look on his face.

Round 4: Stax 2-0
Game 1: I haven’t actually played against this deck, but I knew roughly how all the cards worked together. Thalia made yet another appearance. She creates just enough tempo for me this game to win smoothly. From my understanding, Stax requires you to play the right permanents in a timely and ordered fashion. By the time they assemble their lockout, I’ve already pushed through enough damage to grind the last few points of damage out.
Game 2: My opponent played Humility, Smokestacks, then Armageddon but this was after I resolved a Jitte and 3 creatures. He also took a bit of damage from Ancient tomb. I had enough permanents to sacrifice to win off of Jitte pumps in a couple turns before I had to sacrifice all my permanents. I was actually down to exactly 2 creatures, 1 equipped with Jitte and 2 counters. Stax was at 2, I pumped my guy to a 5/5 then sacrificed Jitte and the other creature to swing in for the rest of his life total.
Round 5: Intentional Draw

Top 8
Three out of the three RoxieCards players made it to the top 8! It was cool to be part of a good group of players. I was really impressed that Adam made it so far with Affinity undefeated. It’s a really fast deck, but its versatility seems low.
Quarterfinals: Burn
Game 1: I had SO many nonbasics. I didn’t draw any fetches and had to take 16 from double price and that was all she wrote.
Game 2: Thalia once again! I kept a hand with 2, and drew the 3rd in the first draw step. He had a Goblin Guide feeding me lands. He killed the first 2 Thalia’s, then I played Scavenging Ooze and ate the first 2 from the graveyard to put him out of Bolt range and gain some life. He suspended 2 Rift bolts on his turn, and I played the 3rd Thalia much to his frustration. The typically fast burn deck was spending excessive amounts of mana to get rid of a 2/1 and I got to play big creatures without any hindrance. I ended out on top of this one.
Game 3: I had a lot of trouble keeping a creature on board this game, but Maze of Ith and Swords to Plowshares kept his side clear as well. I had a jitte in play and he was tapped out. I used a fetch to grab a Dryad Arbor at the end of turn to equip and swing. He destroyed my equipment and I gained some life, but it was a good stall. I was still getting very low in life, but he only had 1 card in hand. I played an Ooze with a bunch of mana up for some nom nom’s and passed turn. He drew and passed, I ate a couple of creatures gaining life at the end of turn. Attacked, and passed turn with 3 more creatures to eat. He drew and passed again. I ate a 3 more creatures, but in response to me targeting the last creature that would put me at 9 life, he double Fireblasted me. I fretted for a second, mad that I was going to lose this way, and then used open mana to target the last creature a second time. I went to 1 life, then attacked for lethal the next turn. Good lesson here. Take your time when playing Maverick. There are always other options; this deck arguably has more choices than any other deck in the format.

Semifinals: Affinity (Adam Eltarhoni)
Yup, I had to face both of the RoxieCards players that day. It stinks that I had to play against Adam, he did really well with a tough deck to play at tournaments. We joked about who should scoop to the other, but in the end we had to play it out. (Editor’s note: I wasn’t joking!)
Game 1: Adam had a good start with Memnite, double Cranial Plating. I had 2 Qasali Pridemages and he failed to draw any more creatures. He got land flooded, and I snuck away with a win. An etched champion would have destroyed me in 2 turns.
Game 2: My first hand was without colored mana, but I had a Stony Silence from the board. It was tempting but I didn’t risk the keep. My next 6 contained colored mana, gut shot, STP, and Stony Silence. Got lucky here. Stony Silence on turn 2 is absolutely devastating against Affinity. Sorry Adam. Adam played the game out though; he made me work for the win. I expected no less.

Adam’s Post Game Notes

Finals: Griselbrand Storm
This deck has a strange mix of threats. I have to deal with a 7/7 flying lifelink card engine as well as tendrils combo. If I stop him from storming me to death, he still has a huge flyer and a fist full of cards.
Game 1: I lost to turn 2 Show and Tell, Griselbrand, draw a billion, tendrils.
Game 2: My sideboard was packed with anti-combo cards. The only thing I wanted different was that I wanted Path to Exile instead of Gut Shots for this matchup. I got lucky a few times this game, but let me explain. I played an Ethersworn Canonist on turn 2 and had a Jubilation Angel in hand for his Show and Tell (Angel turns off his fetchlands, Ancient Tombs, Force of Will, and most importantly Griselbrand’s draw ability. It does roughly the same thing as Linvala, but I wanted to try it out.) I even have Karakas in hand to bounce his legend. The problem was that I wasn’t thinking and I attacked with my Canonist. He flashed in a Vendillion Clique, targeted me, cycled one of my cards, and blocked. I’m a terrible player and get by on luck so obviously I draw the Swords to Plowshares off his Clique and save my canonist (To be fair, he didn’t need to make me cycle a card in the first place.) Based on the cards I still have in my hand, I have a solid lock on this game, so the obvious choice for my opponent was to cast Lim Dul’s Vault and look at 7 cards instead of 5 so the judge next to us can give him a game loss and we can play game 3…
Game 3: I start off on a great Hierarch-Thalia-Wasteland plan on the deck full of spells. I start the beats for 4 each turn after playing Pridemage then Mother of Runes. He cast Lim Dul’s Vault again (Careful to the point of ridiculousness) and pays several life to look through his deck. At this point he has paid a few life from fetchlands, Lim Dul’s Vault, and needing to use Ancient tomb to pay the extra 1 from Thalia. This means activating a Griselbrand would put him at very near lethal. He plays Clique targeting himself when I attack with Thalia. I give her protection from blue with Mother, and bring him to 3 life and cast Scavenging ooze. He Show and Tells a Griselbrand into play versus another Scavenging Ooze from me. The next turn I swing with the team, wait for him to block with big G and Clique, then give my creature pro-black to stop the lifegain. Yay winner!

GRAND PRIX ATLANTA!
I already had 2 byes for GP Atlanta, but that 3rd bye is incredibly useful, especially for Maverick decks. Maverick is a strong deck, but it needs to be tuned to beat the top field. You have to have the right combination of hate and aggression for the decks you expect to play against. But in those early rounds, you can get matched up against fringe decks that you are unprepared for. Those 3 byes get you the more mainstream field without having to deal with some of the nonsense.
I’ve had the great fortune of testing with my friends the past few weeks. It makes a difference playing against a mix of people with different decks. They help you realize where your bad matchups are, and they can teach you to overcome those play style inconsistencies. After testing, I think I’ve started to settle on this build of Maverick:
4 Mother of Runes
4 Noble Hierarch
3 Qasali Pridemage
2 Scavenging Ooze
3 Thalia, Guarian of Thraben
1 Gaddock Teeg
2 Scryb Ranger
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Swords to Plowshares
1 Path to Exile
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Elspeth Knight-Errant
2 Sylvan Library
2 Umezewa’s Jitte

2 Forest
1 Plains
4 Savannah
4 Windswept Heath
4 Wasteland
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Gaea’s Cradle
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Karakas

Sideboard
2 Crop Rotation
2 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Ethersworn Canonist
2 Phyrexian Revoker
2 Path to Exile
2 (Undecided Graveyard Hate)
1 Maze of Ith
1 Bojuka Bog
1 Gideon Jura

• I’ve upped my Scryb Ranger’s to 2 because of its ability to block Delver all day and it provides so many tricks and interactions that opponents fail to realize. Returning lands that they try to Wasteland. Untapping Mother of Runes is insane. Untapping Knight isn’t terrible. You also get to use it to generate more mana. Dryad Arbor becomes a maze of Ith. The amount of tricks go on and on.
• No maze of Ith main board. I’m skeptical of this one, but I can see its merit. Maze isn’t always good, but it’s wonderful against equipment and decks without wasteland. I’m running a Path to Exile in that spot instead.
• Gaea’s Cradle. This is just a dollar investment that I haven’t made yet. Having the extra mana to play and equip Jitte, Green Sun with Thalia on board, and cast Planeswalkers sooner seems vital. It has the potential to generate no mana, but that is a necessary evil.

I based the deck off of a top 4 list from a Bazaar of Moxen tournament. Because we just know that the Europeans are way ahead of us in Legacy. Not to mention it was a 724 person legacy tournament, so this guy had to fight through all types of decks.
That’s all I can talk about Maverick for now. Hope to see you all at GP ATLANTA!!!