Rocking the SCG Invitational

This past weekend I made the top 8 cut at the SCG Invitational in Somerset. The invitational is a split legacy/standard event. In the legacy portion I played an updated version of the four color loam deck I’ve been championing for some time now. While I plan to write an updated article on my legacy deck of choice later this week – today I would like to talk about the standard deck I chose to play – GB Rock.

At the Invitational –

I played the following 75 in standard:

The Rock

Creatures (17) (17)
Desecration Demon
Disciple of Bolas
Lifebane Zombie
Scavenging Ooze
Thragtusk

Planeswalkers (4) (4)
Liliana of the Veil
Vraska the Unseen
Lands (25) (25)
13 Swamp
Golgari Guildgate
Mutavault
Overgrown Tomb
Woodland Cemetery

Spells (14) (14)
Ratchet Bomb
Abrupt Decay
Devour Flesh
Putrefy
Tragic Slip
Gaze of Granite
Mutilate
Sign in Blood

Sideboard (15)
Pithing Needle
Curse of Death’s Hold
Deadbridge Chant
Underworld Connections
Golgari Charm
Putrefy
Tragic Slip
Liliana of the Veil
Duress
Increasing Ambition
Mutilate
Sever the Bloodline

 

I believe the BG Rock deck has strong match ups against every non-Jund, non-UWx deck in the format.

While I would not call Jund a “strong” match up for the Rock, it is fairly close to even. When examining the Jund match up, the Rock is one of the few decks in standard that can keep up with the powerful top decks Jund has in the mid-late game. Our late game bombs combined with a number of powerful three drops often puts us ahead in this match up. Snagging creatures with Lifebane Zombie and applying pressure to your opponent’s hand with Liliana of the Veil are both great lines that often lead to victory.

Unfortunately Jund has two aces that our Rock deck has a hard time dealing with – Garruk, Primal Hunter and Rakdos’s Return. Garruk is able to generate massive amounts of card advantage for the Jund player both by generating beast tokens and by drawing a pile of cards. Rakdos’s Return on the other hand is a devastating turn 4-5 play against Rock – doubly so if the Jund player had a Farseek opener.

Thankfully our Duresses out of the side board are great at shoring up both these loose ends.

Sadly, the UWx matchup is not nearly as even for the Rock as Jund is. In fact – most games during which your opponent casts a Sphinxes Revelation are difficult to put away. That being said – I do not think UWx decks are currently popular enough to make the Rock a bad deck choice. The fact that the rest of your match ups are so strong makes it a very viable deck choice for large events going forward.

Others Rocking –

You know an arch type is good when it makes multiple top 8s in the same weekend. While I was battling in Somerset, Trent Douglas was busy making top 8 of the Grand Prix in Calgary with the following main deck:

Trent's Rock List

(60)
Desecration Demon
Disciple of Bolas
Lifebane Zombie
Scavenging Ooze
Thragtusk
Liliana of the Veil
Vraska the Unseen
Abrupt Decay
Devour Flesh
Doom Blade
Mutilate
Sign in Blood
Tragic Slip
Underworld Connections
Overgrown Tomb
Rogue’s Passage
16 Swamp
Woodland Cemetery

A couple things jump out at me about the changes Trent made. First – a main deck Underworld Connections is an excellent choice. This card is an absolute house against midrange/control decks and midrange makes up a good deal of the standard meta game right now.

The second is his mana base. My own deck with ten green sources of mana sometimes has trouble finding its first green source. Trimming down to just eight sources of green seems very greedy. Rogue’s passage as his utility land of choice is an interesting idea. Our deck plays a number of large creatures and making one of them unblockable for a few turns is a very quick route to victory. I am not sure if this is better than playing Mutavault or Cavern of Souls – but it is definitely worth testing out.

Going Forward –

I am currently working on tweaking the Rock so it can have a more favorable UWx match up – as this is the one loose end the arch type currently has. I have a number of ideas – but currently my favorite is playing Cavern of Souls over the Mutavaults and then upping our demon count with a few Bloodgift Demons. The current 75 I am working with after this past weekend looks like:

Rock

Creature (19) (19)
Bloodgift Demon
Desecration Demon
Disciple of Bolas
Lifebane Zombie
Scavenging Ooze
Thragtusk

Sorcery (4) (4)
Mutilate
Sign in Blood

Artifact (2) (2)
Ratchet Bomb

Planeswalker (3) (3)
Liliana of the Veil

Instant (7) (7)
Abrupt Decay
Devour Flesh
Doom Blade
Putrefy
Tragic Slip

Land (25) (25)
Cavern of Souls
Golgari Guildgate
Overgrown Tomb
13 Swamp
Woodland Cemetery
Sideboard (15) (15)
Abrupt Decay
Blood Scrivener
Curse of Death’s Hold
Duress
Gaze of Granite
Golgari Charm
Liliana of the Veil
Mutilate
Pithing Needle
Putrefy
Scavenging Ooze
Tragic Slip

In addition to giving us three more large threats to cast off of Cavern of Souls, Bloodgift Demon also provides us with a steady stream of card advantage VS midrange and control decks.

In the sideboard we can find two copies of Blood Scrivener and a fourth Scavenging Ooze. By adding three more low cost threats to our board, we are better able to act as an “aggro” deck VS UWx control. Against control we are often quickly dumping our hand, so Scrivener should provide some card advantage there as well. The fourth Scavenging Ooze is also a nod to the fact that reanimator is far from being “dead”, while also being a powerhouse against Snapcaster decks.

There are also three more pieces of spot removal in our side board:

  • Abrupt Decay
  • Tragic Slip
  • Putrefy

In addition to the last two Mutilates. Because we added to the top end of our main deck curve, we want our sideboard to allow us to trim our average casting cost down in games VS aggro decks.

I’d highly recommend giving GB Rock a try at your next event if you are undecided on what to play. I’m heading to Chicago this weekend for a standard TCGPlayer 5k on Saturday and then a modern 1k on Sunday.

Cheers,

~Jeff Hoogland