Many people say luck can only take you so far. Boy, did I find that out the hard way.
Let’s take a short trip down memory lane to last Friday. It’s about 6:30 pm, and I’m sitting at a table inside Gamer’s Gauntlet with my buddies Jack, Mike, and Jason. We’re helping Mike finish his sideboard for his Bant Control deck (ala Reid Duke) by trying to convince him to not play a singleton Beck//Call. Jack and I were going to play Jund Midrange (ala Reid Duke and Owen Turtenwald). Jason, who was going to play in his first standard tournament ever, was going to play Travis Woo’s Izzet Blitz deck featuring Nivix Cyclops.
“Last call for FNM signups! If you have not already signed up, please come up to the counter!”
As soon as the announcement was made, Jason sighs and decides he doesn’t want to play Standard. So, naturally, I look at him and jokingly say, “Why don’t I play the cyclops deck?”
As soon as I uttered those words, I knew I was in trouble. With some persuasion from Jason, we decided to leave it up to a coin flip. Heads, I play the Cyclops deck. Tails, I stick with trusty old Jund, with which I had made consecutive top 8 and top 4 finishes the last few weeks. I let Dan Cato flip the coin.
The coin flip comes up heads. Thanks Cato. At least you would redeem yourself later, even if you didn’t know it.
True to my word, I take the deck from Jason, who I’m sure is grinning right now, and with only a few minutes to spare, take a quick look-through of the deck to make some slight modifications. Pairings went up just as I finished swapping some cards out, and I was doomed to try and win with this brew. Here’s the decklist:
Round 1: Anthony Giordimaina – Simic Elves/Ramp
Of course, I start the event against my buddy Anthony. Now, him and I have almost always played against each other in the first round, with him usually getting the best of me (stupid Predator Ooze). I had a feeling he was still playing his Ooze/Rubblebelt Raiders deck, which was fairly tough to deal with, so I was not looking forward to this matchup. I thought, “If I lose, at least I can drop and go draft!”
Game one quickly turned into a racing situation. On the decisive turn, he was at 14 life with no creatures left back to block. I swung in with my lonely Guttersnipe, but also had double Boros Charm to deal the final 12 points of damage in a blaze of glory.
In game two, he managed to get his ramping started after gambling on a one land, Arbor Elf, Farseek hand. He gets 3 Elvish Archdruids out onto the battlefield, along with a Thragtusk and a Garruk, Primal Hunter. It didn’t end well.
Game three was pretty epic. I somehow managed to survive back-to-back Aetherizes into back-to-back Thragtusks that put him up to 26 life with a Collective Blessing on board. He swung with his entire team, allowing me to to squeak in 2 points of damage with a Boros Charm that made my Guttersnipe, Snapcaster Mage, and Nivix Cyclops indestructible, and then hit him for 24 exactly on the crack-back. Turns out I could have killed him the turn before he played the Collective Blessing, but I forgot Charm can give a creature double strike. I made a mental note to remember this, turned in the slip, and awaited pairings.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games
Round 2: Stephen Rakovich – Naya Aggro
Another round, facing another friend. Much like the previous round, I had assumptions that Rakovich was on a deck he’d been playing off and on for some time. Luckily, he was not on Bant Hexproof, and instead was playing Naya Aggro, a deck full of Loxodon Smiters, Boros Reckoners, and Ghor-Clan Rampagers.
In game one, Rakovich took some unnecessary shocks from his lands to drop him to 14 life, allowing me to hit for exactsies by making my Nivix Cyclops unblockable with Artful Dodge and giving him double strike with Boros Charm while I was staring down lethal. Guess that mental note paid off.
In game two, Rakovich out-raced me with a flurry of one and two drops and kills me while at a comfortable 18 life.
The decisive game three was yet another Nivix Cyclops combo kill, with double strike for exactsies.
Round 3: Phillip Heath – G/B Ooze
You tend to play your friends a lot when you all go to the same shop. Lo and behold, I got paired against another friend in round 3. This time I KNEW Phil was on G/B Ooze, and since I have absolutely no way to deal with a Predator Ooze once it hits the table, I felt this was going to be a tough match.
In our opening game, he managed to get the combo of Predator Ooze with Rancor and Ulvenwald Tracker (affectionately named “fight bear”) in play against my lowly Guttersnipe. Finding no answer to the Tracker or Ooze, I scooped it up quickly.
Games two and three went pretty similarly for Phil – he flooded out, and what gas he did draw, I managed to deal with. Still, in game three, during our racing situation, I had to rip either another burn spell or a Snapcaster Mage to burn him out from 8 life, or I would have died the following turn. Guess what? Snapdaddy comes to the rescue. Thanks, Cato!
After turning in the slip, I was in shock I was 3-0 and had more than likely locked up a top 8 slot. That made me pretty upset, mostly because my deck was garbage.
Round 4: Steve Wilbur – Bant Hexproof
This round hardly requires description. Steve played a hexproof guy, suited it up, and smashed me in two games. The end. The only reason I didn’t drop after this was because the draft had already started.
Round 5: Micaela – Jund Aggro
Despite losing the previous round, I was still able to draw into top 8 with my opponent. While I was happy to draw in and guarantee my opponent a spot in top 8, I was not happy with the fact that I had made it. I never thought I would be upset at making a top 8, but I was. First world problems, right?
Quarterfinals: Micaela playing Jund Aggro
And now, a blast from the past – Jund Aggro, featuring everyone’s favorite vampire, Falkenrath Aristocrat! There really isn’t much to say here, as both games were pretty similar – she played guys with haste, and my deck was too slow to mount a comeback, and I got crushed in two games. It was refreshing to play against someone new at the shop, even if she did mock me after crushing me (all in good fun).
Overall, this deck is not very good. It feels like an extreme underdog in many matchups, and a lot of the time you have to hope to get lucky with your burn spells and cantrips. However, the deck does have the potential to deal a lot of damage out of nowhere, and if people are not prepared for it, you can steal a match or two. (Editor’s Note: The deck also looks like a ton of fun!) Would I take this deck to a bigger event, like an SCG IQ or Open? I probably wouldn’t unless you enjoy being the underdog.
Snapcaster Mage for being awesome
Cato for letting Papcun borrow his Snapcasters
Guttersnipe for being an all-star and letting me burn people out
Cato for flipping heads
Travis Woo for creating this deck
Unsleeved sideboard (No, really, I had to desleeve whatever cards were in the maindeck that I was taking out and put the sideboard cards in)
Until next time folks,