After qualifying for Champs at the Mt. Gilead, Ohio KMC, I didn’t have much time to test, let alone draft with Vortex due to work and being a full time student. However, I still tried to make as much time as possible to prepare myself for Standard. I decided that I would just have to make due with drafting Vortex for my first time at Champs.
Fast forward to Saturday at the Kaijudo Championship event. I drafted what I thought was a very sub-par deck. I knew I wouldn’t go 3-0 in my pod, in fact I thought I had a very good chance at 2-1. My drafting strategy was to maximize my count of shield blasts and shield blast creatures. I ended up being in Darkness, Nature, and Fire with a Timelost Phantom to go with 12 shield blasts in the deck. My round one opponent and I played some very close games. The deciding turn had me swing into his last shield, hitting an Ichor Spider, and not having enough attackers to swing for game. I died on the swing back to start 0-1. I bounced back in round two with an easy win, but in round three I made a huge misplay, forgetting that Intrepid Invaded has blocker when my opponent has two or fewer shields. So my record going into standard was 1-2, not what I was really hoping for, but that’s what I deserved for not preparing myself. I needed to shake off the misplay and prepare myself for Standard.
I knew one thing for sure, I wanted to be on the Boulderfist plan. Now, obviously I have three choices from that point. LDN Midrange, LN Midrange/Hard 8, and Mono Nature. I quickly eliminated the Hard 8/LN plan as I feel the deck is trying to do a bit much, Battlebred Defender can be sweet at times, but it wasn’t something I wanted to be doing. Earlier in the KMC season I Top 8’ed with a LDN deck that was very good, but I wanted to play both Jarbala Hatchery and Muk’tak, while LDN is on a totally different plan. After talking with Dan Cato he really got me on the Mono Nature plan with Sprout, Muk’tak, and Jarbala Hatchery. I give him all the credit for the deck list because he tested the most with it in our group. The 40 I sleeved up and played in the standard event can be found below.
I knew I could not lose any more matches or I would have only a very slim chance at making it into the Top 8. However, I felt very confident in my deck choice. The only deck I would have some trouble against would be heavy discard, but Muk’Tak helps shore up that matchup a bit. I’ll go a bit more in depth on card choices and why we were running certain cards.
Sprout is insane in this deck because if you haven’t noticed, there are zero multi-civilization cards. Knowing that when you ramp off a Sprout you will be able to utilize the mana right away is awesome. There were multiple games where I was able to play Sprout on turn two into a Horned Chameleon, followed up by Charging Greatclaw. The possibilities are endless with Sprout, and it’s usually not a dead draw unless you draw it in the super late game, and even then, if you have Muk’Tak out along with a creature with 6,000 power you can use the Sprout to help filter out your deck.
Muk’tak, Lifespark Guide
Muk’Tak was pretty decent in testing, but when it came down to it, he just devastated to my opponents all weekend. He definitely helps shore up any matchups where your opponent is on a discard plan. You can mana row your larger evolutions in the early game and then get them back when needed. Baiting your opponents is key when using Muk’Tak against heavy discard plans, and knowing what to mana row during certain situations can make your opponent question what he actually wants you to discard. Broodmother is great in situations like this. Even in matchups that your opponent isn’t on a discard plan, being able to filter through the cards you actually want is just awesome. And don’t even get me started when you are able to use a Muk’Tak trigger when you have no cards in your hand…
Every time I was able to utilize Jaraba Hatchery’s effect I felt like cheating. What’s better than playing a creature for free or at a lesser cost? Even more important, the ability to have five mana open, play a Jarabala Hatchery and then evolve a Charging Greatclaw on top of it seems pretty good right? I don’t think I lost a game this weekend where I threw down a Hatchery and got multiple activations out of it. Also I felt my opponents where somewhat sleeping on this card and didn’t get rid of it when they had the chance. With Hatchery you can easily clutter up the battlefield very fast and your opponent can’t do much about it.
Pouncing Crickant / Horned Chameleon
We decided to run a play set of both these cards because we wanted to help our matchup against L/F Rush and L/N Aggro (Shaman of the Vigil decks.) Both Chameleon and Crickant help you race against these decks. Hitting one early as a shield blast or The Arbiter is absolutely devastating when your opponent swings in with his Magris the Magnetiser. Even when your opponent’s creatures are bigger than your own you can use these two creatures as extra evolution bait. However, I did not play a single LF Rush or LN Aggro all weekend, but both of these creatures helped me out in multiple matchups by bringing an extra body the battlefield and allowing me to use my evolutions on them rather than, say, a Tricky Turnip.
The Evolution Package
I was very happy with our evolution package all weekend. I never felt like I had too many evolutions in the deck, nor did I feel like we had too few. Having a playset of Charging Greatclaw, Boulderfist, and Rulchor was a must. You want to be seeing these cards every game. Although Boulderfist won me every single game I played it, the most important card out of the three evolutions is Beastlord Rulchor. Having the ability to break two shields, find the Boulderfist I need to win the game, AND place a creature like Tricky Turnip on the battlefield to evo onto is, you know, pretty nasty. We decided to run with just two Anjak, the All-Kin instead of three because we didn’t want to cut a non-evolution creature to play another evolution. If we were running a play set of of Savage Spawn I would possibly think of going up to three Anjaks, but that wasn’t the case for our deck.
My team and I debated about this slot, we wanted to dedicate it to some form of removal. The cards in question were Root Trap and Containment Field. I decided to go with Root Trap to help combat Serpens. I’d rather Root Trap a Serpens the Spirit Shifter than attempt to Containment Field it and a few blockers to try and kill it. The Root Trap also helps against aggressive decks like LN Aggro and LF Rush. IT also mana rows Shaman of the Vigil. On the other hand, Containment Field can be better at times. It adds to our light count (we only run three Arbiters). However, having five Light cards in the deck means that chances are you are never going to cast it, and your only hope is to hit it in a shield blast. That isn’t the case for Root Trap.
The rest of the deck are automatic includes. There aren’t really any changes I would make. You could possibly go down to two Muk’Taks for something else. I am not sure what I would want to run over Muk’Tak though. Brian Jessing was running a playset of Savage Spawn and complimented that with a playset of Anjak, the All-Kin. I’m not so sure I am on the Savage Spawn train, as I would rather play the guaranteed ramp from Sprout, but hey, it worked out for him since he was able to take it all and win the Kaijudo 2014 Winter Championship. Another card we had considered but was not able to test with is Defiant Shaman. Protecting your evolutions and ramping yourself up when he is banished seems pretty decent.
In the event, I played against a bunch of Boulderfist decks, which put a smile on my face because I knew that I could get to Boulderfist before my opponent could even when on the draw. I was able to Boulderfist my opponents on turn six five times throughout the tournament (the most notable being in game two against Ryan Kruse in my win and in) One of the only matchups I felt I was going to have a ton of trouble against was any sort of Haven deck. However, I was able to kill my Round 8 opponent, Benjamin Rowe, in games one and three before he could get Haven down. I also played against a few LD control decks that I was able to push through because of Muk’Tak filtering cards even when I had no hand. When it was all said and done, I 6-0’d the standard portion.
This put me in 6th place after Swiss going into top 8 putting me against Randall Hopson in the quarterfinals.
Randall was on a LWDN Tempo list that topped out at Boulderfist and Regent Sahsa. Both games one and two I got him to clutter the board while holding on to a Bouldefist. I believe I was able to mana row 4+ creatures in both games. Randall couldn’t recover in either case, and I moved onto the semifinal against Mark Woodin.
Mark was on a LD Kalima list (KALIMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA) that played heavy on shield blasts and had some discard elements. Game one Mark dwindled me down to no hand with two Spire Puppets. I had a board of Horned Chameleon, Pouncing Crickant, and Muk’tak. I drew another Muk’Tak and played it, hoping that my next card would be an evolution so I can get triggers from both of my Muk’Taks. I passed the turn. Mark has a Serpens, two Spire Puppets, and an Underworld stalker. He evolved a Trox onto one of his Spire Puppets and then attacked my shields naming Muk’Tak, Lifespark Guide. He hit a Root Trap and some non-evolution creature in my shields. I thought about it for a long time and decided to Root Trap his Trox instead of Serpes because unless I draw a Boulderfist I cannot kill Trox. However in my thought process I thought he was just going to pass the turn after that. He decided to attack with his remaining creatures and that was game one. Game two Mark dwindled me down to no cards once again. I got an Anjak, the All-Kin out along with a Muk’Tak. I had already binned two Boulderfist and was at seven mana, but for two consecutive turns I brought back Boulderfist to my hand with Muk’Tak and passed the turn, hoping to slam it next turn. Both times Mark either Mesmerizes or Spire Puppeted the Boulderfist from my hand. I didn’t have anything else in my mana row worth bringing back, so it seemed like the right line. I just decided that if he has it, he has it. There was a point in the late stages of the game where I played Broodmother and missed both draw effects, hitting two Root Traps. The turn after that happened Mark swung for game.
So that was the end of my tournament. Mark Woodin went on to the finals and lost to Brian Jessing, also playing a slightly different version of Mono-Green than I was. So when it was all said and done I finished the Kaijudo 2014 Winter Championship in 4th place. I was excited because I was pretty sure no one thought I would do as well as I did, especially after the 1-2 start.
I am sad that this will be the last Kaijudo Championship. I really did enjoy playing this game. I started playing back in the beginning of March 2014. Since I started I have been able to record 4 top 8s, 2 top 4s and 1st place in a KMC. I put a ton of time and effort into becoming better at this game and it seems like it has paid off in the end. I couldn’t have done as well as I did without my team (Team StormSpark!) The amount of time we all spent testing and drafting is insane. I don’t think I could have been a part of a better team.
I will still be playing Kaijudo whenever I get the chance. Dan Cato, Chris Randolph, and myself have an sweet cube put together. Once we update it with Vortex we will be publishing the list. I’m looking forward to still traveling and taking down tournaments for this game.
Team StormSpark for being the best team out there!
Anjak for being best Anjak. ANJAKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!
Mark Woodin for crushing me in top 4 of the Championship (I should have Root Trapped the Serpens!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Everyone I got to meet over the weekend at Champs.
Benjamin Rowe for playing a 104-card deck in the Open Open and almost Top 8ing with it.
Empire Tony (aka Carl Reddish) I need to send that 9.5 Andro to you soon!
Sumo Artichoke, just because.
Anyways, I think I am good for now. You can follow me on twitter:
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Well.. Until next time!
-Kyle “Gifts” Ellingham