Running the Gauntlet – Cawblade, Day 1 (Esper)

Welcome to Day 1 of this week’s Running the Gauntlet! Since the deck I wanted to test this week is Cawblade, I decided to do things a little differently. Instead of taking one list and playing it against all the big decks, I’m going to play different lists each day, and just join tournament queus to find my opposition. There are a number of good Stoneforge Mystic decks right now, and hopefully I can find the right one.

I decided to start with one of the most well-known versions, Gerry Thompson’s UWB build. After tinkering a little with it, and playing some games, here is the list:


Wrapter had been testing this for a while, and obviously loved having a million Jaces (5 main 1 board), so I followed suit. Because I’m trying to test out different cards, there are a lot of one-ofs, though that is a hallmark of Gerry’s original list anyway.

The obvious trade-off with this deck vs the UW version is worse mana for better spells (and a better [card creeping tar pit]manland[/card]). You play some black removal just because you are already black, but the actual reason for the splash is [card]Inquisition of Kozilek[/card]. Replacing [card]Spell Pierce[/card], Inquisition goes a long way against opposing Stoneforge Mystic decks, since it is the only card in the format that can stop a Stoneforge when you are on the draw. Additionally, you can just cast it the turn after they Stoneforge, and nab the Sword. I was curious to see if it was worth making the manabase worse, since I bet nobody expected the Inquisition splash when the card was first spoiled. I headed into a Daily Event to check it out:

Channel LSV: Standard Gauntlet – UWb Daily Event

To see the rest of this deck’s matchups, as well as the current Running the Gauntlet series, click here!

Field Report

Well, I lost to the two real decks I played (Naya and RUG) and beat mono-black control and black-red control (which I thought was BR vamps until the middle of game three). Impressive.

I was continually unimpressed with the mana, and as good as Inquisition is in the mirror, it isn’t nearly powerful enough in some of the other matchups to justify the splash. I’m not saying the deck is bad, since it clearly isn’t, but you have to be pretty sure that you are playing the mirror almost every round before committing to playing all three colors. Granted, this was only after playing four rounds in this event + another six rounds total of different events, so I need to play more before I formulate a final opinion.

Sweet Cards

Here are the sweet cards I tried, and my thoughts on each:


I liked this, even though it wasn’t that important during the Daily Event. Mortarpod feels like more of a spell than an equipment, and getting to search it up with Stoneforge was definitely good. I think I’ll keep this one on, even if I end up switching colors.


Having removal spells maindeck was a mixed bag, and there were situations where neither of these was good. Having a mix seems ok, since it is hard for them to play around all these different cards, but drawing Condemn against Valakut is pretty miserable. I’m not even sure these are better than Day of Judgment, which this deck could easily play. I know that Day would have been pretty nice to have round 1, that’s for sure.

sun titan

This guy was awesome, and I expect the sun to shine on any further builds of Cawblade. You don’t need a ton of six-drops, but having one is pretty sweet.


I group these together because they are all the sideboard removal spells, though they obviously do different things. Into the Roil was kind of sweet, and I think I’ll try it maindeck in a later video, and the same goes for Tumble Magnet. Condemn and GfT continued to be underwhelming, since unlike Magnet and Roil, they are a lot more narrow. They might permanently deal with a creature, but this deck doesn’t need to straight up kill things as much as delay them, and Magnet and Roil do that perfectly. Still, I don’t think Magnet or Roil are really sideboard material, and if I try them main I still might have Condemn in the sideboard (as a very targeted slot, which is what sideboards are for).


I like the anti-control package, since they both work quite well with Sun Titan, and both are effective against Valakut. Having 1/1 main and 1/1 side was reasonable, though the Tec Edges made me miss UW Cawblade even more (where you can jam in four with no problem).

Final Verdict

Well, I don’t have one, at least not yet. This initial foray didn’t go so well, but I did play against a fairly random assortment of decks (though, like I said, I did more testing that I didn’t record). I’m going to make a few changes and battle again, with an eye toward doing something like the following:

From the maindeck, cut the random removal spells and the Jace Beleren for Tumble Magnets and Into the Roils, moving the removal to the sideboard.

From the sideboard, I’d like to try a few different cards, though I’m not sure which will make the cut:


I’ll report back in a few days, with hopefully better results!

Coming up tomorrow:

UW Cawblade, obviously with some sweet cards, and ideally without the mana problems.


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