Let me start with my adventure of getting to Chicago.  My Dad works for US Airways which is the reason I’m able to travel to so many events.  I get to fly standby for free (until my 24th bday in 10 months that is).  This is a great perk but it also causes me to get in the occasional “bad” spot.  For GP Chicago I was being hosted by Alex Binek because he’s awesome.  The plan was to get there Friday morning and hang out at the event site until Alex got off work.  All of the Friday flights to Chicago filled up which caused me to scramble and attempt to get there on Thursday.  I got out of work for Friday because my boss is super nice and went straight to the Atlanta airport Thursday afternoon.  After getting to Charlotte I wasn’t able to get on several overbooked flights.  I finally got lucky and left the Charlotte airport at midnight.  This is after 8 hours of waiting, you know the usual.

Alex was unable to host me Thursday night because he had other people staying over that needed to get up early so I got in contact with a family friend.  She said it was cool if I crashed but then she fell asleep before texting me her address, I only knew her train stop, sigh.  The next plan was to nap for a couple hours near the gate in Ohare; I was getting in at 2 am after all.  This plan was changed when I had to check my bag because I was the last person on the plane.  Then I decided I would find a place to nap in the baggage area for a few hours after getting my bag.  If you’ve ever been to Ohare you’ll know this wasn’t a good plan.  THE WHOLE PLACE IS TILE!  I instantly looked up hotels and decided I’d rather sit in a chair and pull an all nighter than pay $100 for a few hours of sleep.  Then I looked up hostels on the off chance Chicago had one.  They did!  I took the train at 2:30 am to downtown Chicago.  The ride was highlighted by the multiple homeless catching some sleep and the guy beside me who decided it was cool to smoke weed on a train full of people he didn’t know.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  I made it to the hostel at 3 am and did my best not to wake up one of my 9 new roommates.  It all worked out though and I have another adventure story on my list. And I learned you’re allowed to take a suitcase and a bookbag in to a movie theater when I went to go see Wreck it Ralph by myself on Friday.  Who knew?

I’ll talk about magic now, that’s what you guys came for right?  After walking all the way to the original Uno’s with Justin Uppal for lunch during the byes it was time to play some modern.  I don’t have much experience with the format.  I had been playing the U/W deck in local events and I enjoyed it; I was winning a lot.  I knew that’s what I wanted to play in the GP.   This is the 75 I played.

 

4

Restoration Angels

4

Snapcaster Mage

3

Geist of Saint Traft

3

Vendillion Clique

3

Kitchen Finks

1

Batterskull

4

Path to Exile

2

Dismember

4

Mana Leak

4

Spell Snare

2

Cryptic Command

4

Seachrome Coast

4

Celestial Colonade

4

Tectonic Edge

1

Misty Rainforest

1

Arid Mesa

2

Scalding Tarn

1

Eiganjo Castle

3

Hallowed Fountain

4

Island

1

Plains

1

Moorland Haunt

Sideboard

2

Disenchant

2

Threads of Disloyalty

2

Supreme Verdict

2

Stony Silence

1

Rest in Peace

2

Negate

2

Celestial Purge

1

Timely Reinforcements

1

Spellskite

 

The deck can be grindy but it also has the ability to close the game out quickly.  I’m looking at you Geist of Saint Traft, Vendilion Clique , and Restoration Angel.  Here’s how my tournament went.

Rounds 1, 2, and 3 – Byes

3-0

Round 4 – Collin Cromwell – RG Tron: 0-2

3-1

Round 5 – Steven Scholten – BUG Infect: 2-1

4-1

Round 6 – Tye Skowronski – RG Tron: 2-1

5-1

Round 7 – Spencer Garnier – Jund: 2-0

6-1

Round 8 – Matt Oberholtzer – Living End: 2-1

7-1

Round 9 – Mathew Hall – Jund: 0-2

7-2

 

Day 2

 

Round 10 – Florian Koch – Jund: 2-1

8-2

Round 11 – Andrew Croy – Kiki Pod: 2-1

9-2

Round 12 – Edgar Flores – UW: 0-2

9-3

Round 13 – Tyler Kozal – Jund: 0-2

9-4

Round 14 – Anthony Eason – Robots: 2-0

10-4

Round 15 – Jon Johnson – Splinter Twin: 2-1

11-4

 

 

11-4 was good enough for 41st place, $200, and my first pro pointJ.  I really like the deck and I’m looking forward to playing it in the upcoming PTQ season.  The deck had game against everyone.  The only matchup that I felt behind in was Tron (I went 1-1 against it) because they’re able to Eye of Ugin for a threat every turn.  The Jund matchup felt 50/50 (I went 2-2 against it).  They use a bunch of discard and then one of us top decks better cards.  I imagine that lingering souls makes that matchup worse.

The coolest thing I did was steal a Tarmogoyf with Threads of Disloyalty and then blinked the Goyf with Restoration Angel in response to abrupt decay on my threads.  That means it’s my goyf, forever 🙂

 

 

Let’s talk about standard.  I’ve been told by multiple friends to just play UW.  If you’ve read Alex’s article from yesterday you know he thinks its way ahead of the other decks.  I don’t disagree with him, it’s a good deck and it is right up my alley.  I’m just not sold on being able to consistently win through Cavern of Souls naming beast; Thragtusk is such a jerk.  Alex makes the good point that those decks already have stretched mana and it isn’t correct for them to go above 2 Cavern of Souls.  That is probably true, but people will still jam 4 Caverns.  There is too much UW around to expect them not to.  Even if it does make your mana a little worse it has to be worth it.  So that is my reasoning for not wanting to play UW.  The next choice is a Thragtusk deck, be it Jund, Reanimator, or Bant.  I don’t want to be ANYWHERE near a Thragtusk mirror.  It looks long and boring.  I like playing magic, a lot, but playing those kinds of games would likely change that.  So what do we do?  We probably want to be playing a Cavern of Souls deck that also doesn’t care about a Thragtusk or two.  After thinking about the problem for a bit I remembered the deck that SCG black played at the block PT in Barcelona.  I’m talking about the bant hexproof “spirit” deck that Finkel and Vidugaris both used to top 8 the tournament.  Thanks to better mana and a couple of other additions I think the deck may be in a good spot for the weekend.  This is where my list is at now.

 

So Savage, by Andrew Schneider

 

4

Invisible Stalker

4

Geist of Saint Traft

4

Strangleroot Geist

4

Wolfir Avenger

4

Wolfir Silverheart

4

Increasing Savagery

4

Spectral Flight

2

Rancor

4

Selesnya Charm

2

Faith’s Shield

4

Cavern of Souls

4

Temple Garden

4

Hallowed Fountain

4

Hinterland Harbor

2

Sunpetal Grove

2

Glacial Fortress

4

Forest

 

Sideboard

2

Negate

2

Dispel

4

Azorius

4

Centaur Healer

3

Rootborn Defenses

 

“Bunch of Savages in this town…” (Clerks anybody?)

I really like how this deck is trying to attack the format.  The mana isn’t amazing, it is a 3 color deck, but it is better than you think.  The obvious game plan is to play an Invisible Stalker or Geist of Saint Traft and make him huge with Increasing Savagery, Spectral Flight, Rancor, or Wolfir Silverheart, but we have more game than that.  We’re doing very powerful things while simultaneously invalidating other decks game plans.  Selesnya Charm really shines in this deck: it puts a 2/2 in play after a Supreme Verdict, and it saves a Geist of Saint Traft from a Bonfire of the Damned or an ambushing Restoration Angel.  It being removal against a fatty is relevant too.   Wolfir Avenger is a concession to Supreme Verdict because you can end of turn it after they wrath or regenerate if Avenger is already in play, but a 3/3 regenerator for 3 mana isn’t a bad deal anyway.  It does swing through Thragtusk too.   Strangleroot Geist shines when everyone has given up on Pillar of Flame and that is where the format is right now.  Its also good against Supreme Verdict.  Rancor is a card that I didn’t want to play at first, but we need it.  Lingering Souls is a thing and Rancor does a good job of making it not a thing (Selesnya Charm does too).  Faith’s Shield is pretty much Dispel with the added bonus of being able to counter Detention Spheres targeting our enchantments.  Being able to “counter” Bonfire of the Damned, Azorius Charm, Selesnya Charm, Ultimate Price for one white mana is too good not to play in my opinion.  I think this deck is a strict upgrade to the ethereal armor decks that are around.  We’re playing 20 creatures and are less reliant on pump than that deck which was the problem with that deck when I gave a try on modo a few weeks ago.

I’m pretty sure this deck isn’t favored against mono red or Zombies.  I don’t know what else to do other than have the 4 Centaur Healers and 4 Azorius Charm in the board.  Maybe that’s enough, but I haven’t tested it enough to know for sure.  We can just race them after all.  I think I’m sold on the deck and I’ll most likely be playing it on Saturday.  If I chicken out I’m sure I’ll audible to UW and I’ll be unhappy about it.  If anyone has been discouraged by the format, hopefully this is something that excites you.  And who knows, maybe I’ll crush and everyone on the coverage will be calling me super smart for picking the deck for the weekend, haha.  If you have any questions or comments you can put them below or get me on twitter.  @On__The__Grind (double underscore).

 

Thanks for reading,

Andrew Schneider