I never thought people would be as excited about a deck as I was until last Sunday. I am mostly unknown these days in a scene where fame is fleeting. Recently I had been helping Jeff Hoogland and friends develop hilarious one-of brews to take to tournaments, but since the beginning of summer I have stopped doing even that, as my time doesn’t permit me to do too much outside of work and playing Modern.
It all started with PT Eldritch Moon. I saw that awesome 4-color Emerge deck and what it was doing. How unique for Standard! It was powerful, aggressive, and just a freight train of excitement that I couldn’t wait to try out, and I don’t play much Standard. Then I saw a bit more of the deck on stream, and I was kind of turned off. Almost instantly I started removing cards from it, ditching the red and blue lands and the cards that weren’t trying to get under Emrakul and Bant Company. What remained was a smooth and streamlined pile of cards. I was so fond of the deck I spent the 26 dollars the deck cost to buy it on Magic Online and played some games. It was worth every dime. I was sending screenshots non-stop to friends of many hilarious board states showcasing my blue ribbon worthy pig.
The only issue was I didn’t have time to play Standard, so I tried to push it on Jeff Hoogland, Mat Bimonte, and Andrew Maine. I just didn’t want the deck idea to go to waste. One of them did take up the banner, but put in a meager performance. All weekend long I heard talk about play mistakes and how powerful the deck was. So after that event it was laid to rest, knowing that there were no events left before rotation and there is no way they would print another enabler after a graveyard-centric set. Cut to September when Scrapheap Scrounger was spoiled. What a card! It does everything I want it to do, including turning on delirium so Gnarls Barkley(Gnarlwood Dryad) could get its beats on. Praise be to whoever at R&D decided Despoiler of Souls needed an upgrade.
Flash forward to after the event, and to quote my favorite movie, Elizabethtown, “What’s your opinion on the whole burial issue? Because there’s a lot of people here with big opinions!” This is the reaction I expected. A graveyard deck that didn’t involve Emmy, clearly not an award winning deck.
“Ghoulsteed? The card isn’t even playable in Limited!”
“How do you cast Prized Amalgam?”
“You know Grim Flayer is in the format?”
“You need removal spells!”
These are all things I heard across the internet since Sunday, but back to the deck itself.
I was pretty locked in on 56 out of the 60 I needed, unlike most people who were on Twitter complaining of deck choices. Fortunately, this deck requires a ton of cards to function as a shell. Unofortunately, the few flex slots available drastically impact the performance, so its easy to make a bad call and bomb out of an event because you just guessed wrong. We ended up going with one Collective Brutality and three Perpetual Timepiece which was a huge mistake, but it’s something where you live and learn. The card was not aggressive and we knew of its weakness beforehand, but we just didn’t want to pull the trigger on card choices we didn’t test, so we stuck to our guns. Friends Tre Lyons and John Sauer also decided to play the deck at Indy.
Day One: Some Pig!
I am not going to go into a full tournament report, but go over some of the matches I remember more clearly since I didn’t take notes at the event.
In round one, friend Billy Comminos and I had to play each other with brews. Friends of ours were coming over laughing at both of us as Ghoulsteed and Aetherworks Marvel were battling for brewing supremacy. Both of our decks didn’t do anything, and when that happens the aggro deck generally wins the game.
Against a Jund Delirium deck, I managed to beat Sylvan Advocate, Liliana, Kalitas, and then Chandra, Flamecaller on a mulligan in the deciding game. It was at that moment a few rounds in I knew the deck was the real deal. Later on in day one I won a 28 minute game one where my opponent played three Linvala, two Sorin, Gideon, Gisela, Ob Nixilis, and plenty of removal spells.
“I triple pigged my opponent in game one, with the same pig.”
“Did you win?”
“We cooked him.”
Ross Merriam was on an aggressive Green/White shell. He destroyed me in the opener, and I was pretty nervous. Like “Oh man, that wasn’t close. I drew kinda mediocre, missed points of damage, but it wasn’t close.” I tightened up for game two and won at one life. Game three I sat and smiled as my pile of creatures just held him off while I was flipping cards over waiting for Babe to come to the rescue. He did, my friends oinked, I oinked, Babe oinked, and we beat a real challenger.
The rest of day one consisted of me playing Jeff on camera, and Eric Hawkins and I keeping probably the oddest set of hands we could, which consisted of him quadruple Fiery Tempering me through a Key to the City and me casting Haunted Dead on turn four. I beat a few more midrange decks and called it a night. At the top tables, the matchup I didn’t want to see, low to the ground aggro, was everywhere. I suspected Sunday might not go well, but I would try my best. “The people are clamoring,” Nick Miller told me after the event while asking me for a quick deck tech. I laughed it off, but gave the man what he wanted.
Day Two: Perpetual Disaster
Perpetual Timepiece must of heard the crap I talked about it in the deck tech, because it was in nearly every opener. Sorry Timepiece, it was you, not me. We broke up, and let me tell you, this ex was a stalker, showing up when I needed basic lands, scrying after keeping six with one land and seeing her on the top of the deck. She was everywhere. I tried to laugh it off, but in round 13, she keyed my car. It was terrible. I lost to Red/White Humans, Red/White Vehicles in two very close games against CVM, Red/Black aggro in the last round against the better Jessup(Andrew), and a heart-breaker against Green/Black Delirium in round 13 vs Abe Schnake. I finished as the third best player with 30 points, good enough for… 33rd. Oh well.
Moving on from the tournament, I appreciate the fanfare that deck received. It was one of the more fun tournaments I have attended because the deck was very fun to play. Even from behind you are laughing and having a good time, because you know at any moment a pig could jump through your opponents Copter window and give them the old yeehaw. On the other side though, the deck was far more difficult to pilot than I had previously thought. Most of the tournament I was sweating and wondering if what I was doing was correct. The cards you discard, the Noose Constrictors, what enablers to use, creatures over enablers, vice versa, lands to play and get back, what to take off enablers, mulliganing, there were a million decisions! If you plan on picking this deck up, I strongly recommend testing it a lot, asking questions, stop eating pork(to show respect to the pig), and start petting horses.
Before we get to the updated list, let’s talk a little about card choices, with the cards as cast members from the 1990 classic movie Days of Thunder.
Grim Flayer as Rowdy Burns – He’s a friend of the delirium strategy and he might look like a good enabler, but you have no removal to clear the way. Our creatures are good at attacking and blocking, and enable what we are trying to do. Gnarlwood Dryad gets the nod instead because it costs less and can attack through most anything.
Noose Constrictor as Cole Trickle – Our star two drop. Trickle turns on your game plan even if he is killed instantly. He’s fast, he’s loose, and if things right we’ll win Daytona baby.
Collective Brutality as Dr. Claire Lewicki – She turns us on and takes care of our issues. The most important cards to strip away are Declaration in Stone and Incendiary Flow, and you get to neutralize them while killing an early threat. Later in the game you don’t care about what creatures they are playing.
Smuggler’s Copter as Russ Wheeler – Much like Grim Flayer, great card, looks like it fits in, but just doesn’t. Russ wants the whole team around him. It doesn’t do what you want it to fast enough, which is get rid of the crew so you can come out of the pits fast and loose. This doesn’t happen with this card. You need to block effectively, and as seen in feature film, you are much better off going under them than taking the high side.
Aether Hub as Tim Daland – Tim might look like he’s on your team, but when you need him the most he’ll either screw you or help you, and you never know which. We need consistency in our lives. We need Buck Bretherton and Harry Hogge to give us those sweet sweet Forests and Swamps that’ll let us cast our crew and ride that mellow yellow flavored pig to victory.
Pig Em 2.0!
4 Sinister Concoction: Unlike To the Slaughter, it hits what we need it to. More consistent, more efficient, and part of the game plan.
2 Asylum Visitor: Against the slower midrange and control decks that don’t pressure our life total, we tend to be in a good position but they can run us out of cards. This is the perfect card to get back with Grapple in a late game position where the pig is bad, which the deck lacked.
1 Distended Mindbender, 3 Traverse the Ulvenwald, 1 Emrakul, the Promised End: I grouped these together because they are interesting. Against midrange decks that do pressure our life total, we can generally stall the game out, but they can stay in the game because of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet or their OWN Emrakul, the Promised End along with just forcing enough damage before we can really get in position to end the game. This plan gives our deck inevitability in the late game. Most of our engine cards are trying to hit lands regardless, so getting to 7 when you know it’s your game plan isn’t an issue. Mindbender generally costs three or four, so Traverse not only gives you the ability to find it that fits into the curve, but also finds a second black source if you already have Mindbender. Traverse also allows us to sideboard into more pigs against some of the aggressive decks where Collective Brutality is bad, but they are bad at racing us. Decks like White Weenie and the Humans deck have a hard time beating Ishkanah and Decimator of the Provinces, but Brutality only stems the bleeding.
1 Swamp: There are a lot of black cards in this sideboard. When boarding into the Emrakul/Distended Mindbender deck you will want to bring in the Swamp. This is also true for Sinister Concoction when you might need double black to play and activate on the same turn, and 13 black sources might not be enough.
Moving forward, I expect the deck to stick around. It’s powerful, and hard to disrupt, but the format does need to slow down some. Post PT metagames are notoriously mid-range heavy and that’s where these pigs want to be greased up and ready to go. Until then, I recommend it at FNMs and local tournaments as it is truly a blast to play. If you have any questions you may have feel free to ask. There are many tiny directions this shell could take also, so by all means experiment. Once the cards cheapen on Magic Online I might jump on there and try some of them out and do some videos for everyone, but until then, stay kosher everybody.
Ryan Hovis @mxfrodo195