Grand Prix Atlantic City and the Deck Everyone Hates
I haven’t written in a while, it’s been about 2 months I guess. It wasn’t that I haven’t been playing magic it was that I have been playing a lot of mediocre magic and I didn’t think I had any knowledge worth sharing. I 6-3’d 3 Grand Prixs in a row (Charleston, Indianapolis, and Denver). Losing day 2 win and ins was starting to become a specialty of mine.
If you read my last article you’ll remember that I was really excited about a hexproof deck that I brewed to beat up on UW Flash and Reanimator at GP Charleston. I was correct about crushing those matchups but I didn’t realize how much aggro would be at that event. My version of hexproof was unfavored against basically any aggro deck and even though I skewed my sideboard towards those matchups I was still a dog. I unsleeved the deck when I couldn’t figure out how to consistently beat aggro.
 
The past 2 months I’ve tried out almost every major deck in standard trying to find something I liked. Every deck seemed mediocre to me and I didn’t stick with anything. I even tried some of the bad midrange green decks, blah. After Denver I was pretty discouraged and wasn’t sure if I was going to go to Atlantic City. When I found out a bunch of my friends from Charlotte were going I decided to go, I’d have fun regardless of how I did in the tournament. 3 days before the event I still didn’t know what I was going to play. While bored at work I was skimming through 2 days of Twitter and I saw a post from Michael Jacob saying he 4-0’d a daily with a hexproof deck. I looked at the list, saw Ethereal Armor, and said ugh. I don’t like how all in the card makes your deck, but I decided to give it a try.
 
The thing is… Abundant Growth is really good. I underestimated the card a lot (Adrian Throop is super smart). Abundant Growth kind of comes in a pair with Ethereal Armor which makes me feel less bad about it being an “all in” deck. The format is full of (bad) green cards which is probably the best time to be playing “combo.” The Ethereal Armor package also gives you the ability to consistently race the aggro decks that were giving me a problem the last time I tried the deck. After playing the deck at a local on Thursday I was sold and decided to play it in Atlantic City on Saturday.
I had no idea how many people were on the deck for the tournament. On Saturday I had to play 2 abysmal mirror matches. I won the first and lost the 2nd to the tournament winner John Stern. My final record was 11-5. The 5 losses were: a mirror match, mull to 5 against naya in game 3, to my friend Matt Sitarski playing mono red, mull to 5 against humans in games 1 and 2, and a scoop in the last round to Vidianto Wijaya (GP Denver winner, the pro point was actually relevant to him). Telling you I lost because of mulligans isn’t me copping out. Hexproof is a combo deck. You have to have the right pieces to win games which means you are going to lose to your deck more often than normal. This is normally something I stay away from, but what could I do? When you know a deck is a good choice you should probably play it, and I was right. If you haven’t seen the results take a look at the 1st and 2nd place lists.
I really liked my main deck at the grand prix, but I hated my sideboard. I only used it four times the whole tournament. I’m pretty sure of those four times I used 7 different cards. Gatecrash is coming soon but if you want something to play in the week or two left this is what I played to a top 4 split at a 1k on Sunday.
 
Main Deck
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Invisible Stalker
4 Geist of Saint Traft
3 Silverblade Paladin
4 Abundant Growth
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Rancor
4 Spectral Flight
4 Selesnya Charm
2 Increasing Savagery
4 Hallowed Fountain
4 Temple Garden
4 Hinterland Harbor
2 Sunpetal Grove
1 Glacial Fortress
3 Cavern of Souls
4 Forest
1 Island

Sideboard
2 Garruk Relentless
2 Ray of Revelation
3 Negate
4 Strangleroot Geist
4 Rhox Faithmender

Garruk Relentless, Negate, and Strangleroot Geist come in for the control matchups. Ray of Revelation is for the mirror. Rhox Faithmender is for Mono Red and R/B.
 
I’m sure the deck will still be a thing after Gatecrash and the mana is only going to get better with Breeding Pool . So this is a good starting point if its something you’re interested in. I’m going to be spending the next 2 weeks trying to figure Gatecrash standard out the best I can before the SCG Atlanta (weekend of the release). I’ll probably do an article before the event with what I’ve learned so check back in the next week or so. If you have any comments or questions you can put them below or get me on Twitter.
 
Thanks for reading,
 
Andrew Schneider
@On__the__Grind on Twitter (double underscore)