It has been some time since I last wrote an article.  I have been in the middle of a complete overhaul in my personal life.  I moved to a new place, started a new job, etc.  However, as I have become more settled in my new space, I have begun to prepare to get back on the Magic grind.  “Tournament Season” in the midwest is almost always during the summer.  I don’t know why this is the case, but the vast majority of major Midwest tournaments are held during the summer months.  Weather is probably the biggest contributor, as snow and ice can keep people from attending events during the winter months.  As we roll into March, I have several tournaments to look forward to.

 

Starcitygames.com Open Series in Cincinnati – Feb. 16th and 17th

Ok, I realize that this tournament is in the past, but I wanted to talk briefly about my experiences in Cincinnati.  This trip was a bit of a logistical nightmare.  I now live about two and a half hours west of Chicago, though for this event I decided to travel with people in Chicago.  This made my overall commute to and from Cincy a lovely 8 hours.  Thankfully, our schools honor the past President’s of our country by giving teachers a Monday off every February, so I was able to attend despite the long drive.

This was the first tournament that I have brought two standard decks with because I was uncertain as to what I was going to play.  The main reason I did that was out of hope for some data from the Pro Tour to be in before I had to decide.  I was between the popular Saito Naya deck and UWR Reckoner/Flash.  I settled on the Reckoner Flash deck for a few reasons:

3 Augur of Bolas
4 Boros Reckoner
3 Restoration Angel
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Azorius Charm
2 Boros Charm
1 Dissipate
1 Harvest Pyre
2 Izzet Charm
1 Rewind
2 Searing Spear
2 Sphinx’s Revelation
2 Thought Scour
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Supreme Verdict
4 Clifftop Retreat
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Hallowed Fountain
1 Moorland Haunt
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls

Sideboard
1 Runechanter’s Pike
1 Boros Charm
1 Counterflux
2 Dispel
2 Negate
1 Psychic Spiral
4 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Pillar of Flame

#1 – Boros Reckoner single handedly took the old UWR Flash deck and made the aggro matchups a breeze.  I struggled quite a bit to deal with aggro in the closing months last season, but Reckoner is a huge trump there.  Not to mention the random combos with Boros Charm/Azorius Charm or Harvest Pyre are very powerful.

#2 – It plays all of the best cards.  Sometimes when new cards come out, people forget just how broken some of the older cards are.  Snapcaster Mage is too good.  Restoration Angel is too good.  Sphinx’s Revelation is very good.  Put them all together with a control shell and it is highly unlikely that your opponent’s deck will be better than yours in raw power.  Also, I have always been saying, since it was spoiled, that Azorius Charm is an incredible card, and would still stand by that.

#3 – The deck plays to my strengths.  My strengths as a player are to play flexible cards that allow me to react.  I struggle with aggro decks due to my unfamiliarity with mulligan decisions and how to use removal.  The charms, in combination with Snapcaster Mage and Augur of Bolas, give the deck a huge amount of flexibility.  This allows me to shift gears quickly after I have analyzed the best line to victory.

 

Overall, I would say that I had a very successful day in Standard.  I finished in 15th place out of 680 after losing twice to The Aristocrats.  There were only two players at the top tables piloting that deck, and I was the lucky one to get paired to both of them.  There are only a few changes that I would make to my list.

Main Deck:

+1 Supreme Verdict, +1 Counterflux

-1 Pillar of Flame, -1 Rewind

 

Sideboard:

+1 Supreme Verdict, +2 Izzet Staticaster

-2 Jace, Memory Adept, -1 Boros Charm

 

I had another somewhat disappointing day in Legacy in Cincinnati.  I played my typical UWr Control list to my second 9th place finish in a row.  I don’t know what I am doing wrong that I just can’t break through in Legacy.  In St. Louis, I went 6-1-1 losing to a very good Esper Stoneblade player (Prosak) and having a draw with a very slow Elves player that was not going to win game 3.  In Cincinnati, I went 7-2 losing to two very good Esper Stoneblade players (Bernal, Nolen).

I clearly need to figure out how to win against Esper Stoneblade.  I think that in general I need to get more value out of each individual card against them rather than relying on my combo-esque synergies.  I am considering a card like Geist of Saint Traft in my sideboard to help there.

3 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Batterskull
1 Helm of Obedience
4 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Blood Moon
2 Counterbalance
1 Detention Sphere
1 Energy Field
2 Rest in Peace
4 Brainstorm
1 Counterspell
2 Enlightened Tutor
3 Force of Will
2 Spell Pierce
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Terminus
5 Island
2 Plains
1 Arid Mesa
4 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
3 Tundra
1 Volcanic Island
1 Karakas

Sideboard
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Counterbalance
1 Energy Field
1 Humility
1 Counterspell
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Force of Will
1 Pyroblast
1 Red Elemental Blast
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Terminus
1 Dust Bowl

Coming up next for me is the SCG Open Series in Indianapolis March 9th-10th.  I don’t think that I will be making too many changes to what I did in Cincinnati.  UWR Flash still seems good for Standard, and I pretty much always play UW Control in Legacy.

 

After that, I have all of these tournaments on my radar:

SCG Opens in Milwaukee – April 13th-14th

Midwest WMCQ in Rosemont, IL – June 1st

SCG Opens in St. Louis – June 8th-9th

SCG Opens in Columbus – June 15th-16th

GP Las Vegas – June 22nd-23rd

GP Kansas City – July 6th-7th

SCG Invitational in Somerset, NJ – July 26th-28th

SCG Opens in Minneapolis – August 3rd-4th

 

Vegas is the big trip that I am planning this year.  I have never been to the city and am hoping to combine the Grand Prix with some typical touristy activities.  April and May look a little dull, but I am sure that I will plan on smaller tournaments, such as PTQs, around Illinois once the standard season is announced.

 

Thanks for reading!  You can follow me on Twitter at @PTQChamp

 

Alex Binek