LSV’s quote about his own success in achieving day 2 of Cincinnati “Luck, Skill, Victory (and in that order)”. I feel this sentiment best exemplifies my own experience at the 1k held at SuperGames this last weekend. I brought a custom brew deck that I piloted to the top and I will show you what choices I made but as well as the valuable lessons learned for future tournament play as well.
The decklist consists of:
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4 Soldier of the Pantheon
3 Imposing Sovereign
4 Spirit of the Labyrinth
4 Precinct Captain
4 Banisher Priest
1 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
2 Chained to the Rocks
4 Brave the elements
2 Mizzium Mortars
4 Boros Charm
2 Spear of Heliod
1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
1 Aurelia’s Fury
4 Temple of Triumph
4 Sacred Foundry
2 Chained to the Rocks
2 Mizzium Mortars
1 Ajani, Caller of the pride
2 Aurelia’s Fury
3 Assemble the Legion
3 Spark Trooper
2 Aurelia, the Warleader
A brief description of how the deck works is: cheap white creatures rushing the opponent in the early game. Following that initial rush, protect the creatures and sneak them past larger creatures using Brave the Elements, Boros Charm and planeswalkers. The deck plays extremely aggressively, and my own experience playing agro decks has taught me the valuable skills necessary to pilot the deck against control matchups. Most important is when to keep mana available for a protection spell and when to put pressure on the board. This deck has a bit more late game then the last article that I brewed up and saw some moderate success at the beginning of Theros block.
This deck is the third incarnation after that original exploration into standard. Within the first weeks I found moderate success with the glass cannon that was ‘Therbos’ but quickly the format latched onto inexpensive board sweeping cards such as
Round 1: (Boros Mirrormatch)
Evidently the standard Boros deck has taken the stance of playing primarily as a burn deck, in this case the opponents deck looked more like a mono red deck splashing small amounts of white for Boros charm. The aggressive nature of my Boros build favors playing creatures on turns 1-3 while my opponent loses tempo in favor of playing cards such as Stormbreath Dragon and Searing Blood. Although the match may seem favored, I found a quick 2-0 victory. By the time a dragon had hit the board, I was in a commanding position via life totals thanks to cards such as Imposing Sovereign, which greatly slows the opponent’s advances and allowing an extra turn of attack from my deck. I recall Chandra ending the final game quickly once the dragon hit the ground; I just pinged it for one and rushed with the team for the final damage. One key note; some but not all Boros decks run Anger of the Gods in the sideboard, so be wary about committing to the board post board without Brave the Elements or Boros Charm mana available. The addition of the planeswalkers also forces the opponent to spend burn against them as well which assists in keeping your primary win condition going.
Round 2: (Boros Mirror match again)
The deck I hit the second round felt very much the same as the first, again the presence of 2 creatures prior to Chandra’s Phoenix making an appearance was a large advantage. Having access to chained to the rocks in the main helps with the match, but as it has a more difficult casting penalty (due to needing a mountain in play) I find the 2 copies coupled with the 2 Mizzium Mortars pair nicely. This way, I also have main deck outs to creatures such as Blood Baron and Stormbreath Dragon. I have to say, Andrew put me to the ropes on game 2 of our match but a lucky draw of double Boros Charm for exact life total won me the day. I won the match 2-0 with 1 life remaining.
Round 3: (vs. Orzhov)
This deck is fairly tough and unfortunately my only match loss for the day. Game one I managed to win after mulling to 6 on the play. With very little pressure I had dropped my opponent’s life total to around 6 before a Blood Baron hit the field. Unfortunately for me, I did not have a Mizzium Mortars or Chandra available and waited for my chance to strike. I simply built my team, he swings, and I counter dropping a Spear of Heliod to up the stakes and attacked. On his following turn he dropped Obzedat and blinked him out. I continued to pressure the board, and then drew into a Chandra allowing me a small reprieve of my own life total, which was quickly sinking, along with gaining a chump blocker from
Round 4 (vs. Esper Control)
This round I fought against Cam and his Esper deck. I am very confident in my game one with this type of match up. I have a deck that runs 4 main deck Spirit of the Labyrinth stopping additional card draw from Sphinx’s revelation and also has a turn 1 creature that can’t get hit by Detention sphere or Azorius Charm. The key to winning Esper match up in game 1 is to leave up Boros Charm from the moment they have 4 mana. If they don’t have it and instead have a Downfall or Doom Blade, Brave the Elements does a lot of work to keep pressure on them. Additionally, the presence of Aurelia’s fury as an one of is specifically intended for this matchup. I find that if the game starts going longer then desired, keep mana available for the turn that they will have 6 mana. During their upkeep, cast Fury for 1 or more damage to keep them from dropping Elspeth on curve. This gives the aggro deck a very key tempo play, even if they counter the fury they still are not deploying her in time, and you can proceed to win. I won 2-0 but it was a bittersweet victory as this put Cam out of contention, and playing against friends is not preferable in the Swiss.
Round 5 (vs. Esper Control)
So in earlier versions of the deck I simply did not have the tools in my sideboard to win games 2 or 3 against Esper control. As previously mentioned the
Round 6 (vs. Maze’s end)
So for those who don’t know there are actually a huge number of Maze’s end variations floating around. This one was certainly the most creative I had seen. A turn 2 play of Elixir of Immortality looked like it might just stretch the match out too long. And he even cast Swan Song on my Aurelia’s Fury. I was perfectly happy with that play as I was a little creature light early in the game. I finished the game after many, MANY, turns of getting fogged when I finally brought his life total down to 3. At the end of the turn I had double Boros charm. Firing one, waiting for the Elixir to be cracked and then hit him with the second. You can’t often rely on double or better Boros charm, except when the game goes for 15 turns or so.
In the second game I had early pressure, and just like the other control match’s, I keep Boros Charm mana available for the turn when a Supreme Verdict could be played. I was rewarded for my patience and really brought the life total low. The key to beating Maze’s end is to just keep them under pressure making sure they need to fog EVERY turn. Eventually they run out, unless they are running the Sphinx’s Revelation version, but that one seems to be much less frequent. My deck tends not to have a difficult time as it’s just too fast compared to other decks in the format. I found the Aurelia’s were a useful play here, as I would certainly make 6 mana, and having a haste creature can apply the additional pressure that may be needed. I wouldn’t advocate spark trooper though as he simply doesn’t keep the pressure on. Ending at 2-0.
Round 7 (Intentional Draw)
I took the time to rest, and if you ever have the time, do so! Getting a short amount of time to recuperate from 6+ hours of top level magic play is essential. I would take a short break over scouting my possible opponents any day of the week. If you can do both that is certainly best, but removing yourself from the environment and loud noise of the event can really recuperate your spirits.
At this point we were given the option to split the Top 8 prizes and several players declined. Personally I was perfectly happy getting $125 for a free tournament, but onto Quarterfinals:
Quaterfinals (vs. Esper Control)
I played against another Esper Control matchup. This game played out almost as a mirror to the first two matches in the swiss, a different player but the same results. Game 2 went exceedingly as long as I made it to 5 mana, played out Assemble the Legion, and had it swiftly put under a Detention Sphere. The second one came down, and then the opponent rapidly had a Jace on the board holding back unending waves of tokens. I got so focused on beating Jace I misplayed and sent a
Semifinals: (vs. G/W – Splashing Red)
Game one was the first time I had hit the matchup at all, I had never tested against it at all. He led with a soldier, I responded with the same. He followed up with a Militant Dryad and a scry land. I attacked into him before playing a land, he blocks with his own soldier. I Braved the Elements to save my own and played a second Soldier of the Pantheon. From this point on, even though he was dropping creatures much larger, I was gaining life and able to attack and defend without fear. Imposing sovereign was a big deal in the match, followed by my miser Aurelia’s fury. In the final turns of the game, he had exactly 4 creatures and the ground was locked up with the exception of my still powerful soldiers. I felt like I had a narrow window to capitalize, and risked tapping his whole team to bring him down to 2 life while keeping up one token 1/1 to defend. Evidently he had been searching for another red source to cast both Ghor-Clan Rampagers and some other large pump spells to do 20+ damage in a single turn but did not find an untapped one on the final turn.
In game 2 I was excruciatingly beaten by 2 Boros Reckoner, one of which was equipped with Unflinching Courage. I had mistakenly side boarded my Chained to the Rocks out of my deck and put in Mizzium Mortars. The whole game 2, from the time he cast Boros Reckoner to the time I scooped it up, I had a Mizzium Mortars in my hand mocking me.
Finally in game 3, I reboarded, which is something I rarely do with the deck, but I realized I would need the chained to the rocks more than any other spell for the Boros Reckoners. The game led off quickly I played Soldier of the Pantheon, followed by Imposing Sovereign, followed by Ajani. Even with
Finals – (Mono Black)
Unfortunately I did not get to play this match, after an extremely long day my opponent conceded to me because we both were tired and he had a 2 hour drive to get home. I tend to like my game one against mono black as my Brave the Elements really gets to shine. I have Precinct captain’s to feed their demons while still sending damage. Post board it becomes a lot more difficult if they run Drown in Sorrow or Bile Blight. One key is to not stack up too many creatures, especially with the same name if possible. Additionally, the advantage of Spirit is not unnoticed, as it gets to shut down Underworld Connections and Erebos triggers.
When I started the article I pointed out luck was important, which I think was certainly the case for me. I had evaluated that Esper would be a big portion of the metagame, and was lucky with my choices to have the tools to defeat them this time. One match up I think that is still not favorable is the R/G monsters deck that seems to be on the decline. I had specifically put the Aurelia’s in for some additional power against that type of deck but didn’t get to see one in the swiss. I am considering bringing in more Brimaz, possibly up to 2 copies, as well as a 23rd land. The sideboard performed strongly and may need more adjustment for metagames that consist less of just burn heavy and control heavy decks. I am also considering splashing black (instead of standard mountains) allowing me to run either Rakdos’s Return or Slaughter Games in the sideboard. But this only makes the control matchup more favorable, and the aggro burn deck less favorable. Considering my results from this tournament I feel that may be the wrong direction. I look forward to more successes with the deck and what Journey into Nyx will bring to enhance it. Thanks for reading, when I have more exciting tournament results or deck evolutions I will present them here!
(P.S. As a sidenote, I never mentioned the name of the deck because during the tournament I hadn’t even considered to name it. I had actually left the name blank when registering. I am still considering some options but if you have a catchy name for the deck leave a comment below!)