Welcome to week two of my new series, Running the Gauntlet. This week I’ll be taking the RUG deck and throwing it up against the best decks in Standard, after which I’ll make some changes and run it through some 8-mans/Daily Events. Last week I worked on Tezzeret, and even though I didn’t end up recommending the deck in the end, I was still happy with the process.
As for this week, here’s the list:
The list is pretty standard, with a combination of Precursor Golems, Inferno Titans and an Avenger of Zendikar as the finishers of choice. I can’t imagine playing RUG without 4 of Lotus Cobra, Lightning Bolt, Explore, Jace, Preordain, and Mana Leak, so those slots are pretty locked, but the rest are definitely up for grabs. All you are trying to do is accelerate out a sick 4-7 drop every turn, ideally starting on turn three, and the 4 Preordains and 8 ramp spells make that a pretty realistic plan. RUG is capable of the most broken starts in the format; just imagine having these in play at the end of your turn three:
Day 1, the mirror (same 75 even), piloted by Owen Turtenwald. The mirror isn’t that tricky; you both are trying to resolve haymaker after haymaker, with not all that much in the way of disruption. Having a Cobra or Explore or a way to stop theirs is crucial, since the turn three Jace is almost (but not always), unbeatable if it resolves. I expected some sweet games, and wasn’t disappointed.
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I’m not separating pre and postboard games here because they don’t really change; as you could see in the videos, I only sideboarded minimally.
I pretty much just ranched Owen. I only lost one game total, and probably ran bad to do so. Of course, by that I mean I had amazing draws at every point in the game, and routinely peeled the exact card I needed to win. Still, the games were instructional. The record wasn’t that important, since how the games went was what we were really after (that and proving who was luckiest).
1) You have to have acceleration or a Mana Leak, or a way to stop their accel. That isn’t as bad as it sounds, since the deck has 8 accel, 4 Leaks, 4 Bolts (to stop Cobra), and 4 Preordain (which help find the named cards). If you can’t stop them from going turn 3 Jace, you better be able to play your own.
2) Tapping out for Jace is ok, until it isn’t. Once they hit six mana, risking an Inferno Titan is usually pretty bad. This deck can’t get rid of Inferno Titan that easily, so unless you have a plan for it, even Jace isn’t a good enough reason to tap out. Bluffing Mana Leak (or Flashfreeze postboard) is quite reasonable, since they aren’t very likely to tap out for Titan into your untapped lands, since you Leaking into your own Titan is a beating.
3) Card advantage doesn’t matter once the first Titan resolves. As you can see in the first two games, Owen had an active Jace for multiple turns, but I still won easily by resolving Inferno Titan (or Avenger). Much like Valakut, RUG actually cares less about Jace than you would think, since its trumps, well, trump it.
I was just cutting the three Precursor Golems for 2 Spell Pierce and a Flashfreeze, but I think Owen may be right. He was cutting a Mana Leak as well, for another Flashfreeze. Being able to stop their finisher is pretty key, and Flashfreeze does that at any point in the game. I think the real problem is that Spell Pierce sucks, and might need to be something else.
Cards I Wanted
Deprive. One of these could be sweet, since it stops anything at anytime, and even though casting it early sucks, so does them resolving Jace.
Volition Reins. This seems like the best answer to an opposing Titan, though it is kind of weak to Jace. I haven’t tried this in a while, so I’m not completely sure, but it seems sweet. It is also sick against Planeswalkers.
Spell Pierce. This was the weakest sideboard card, but honestly, just siding in more Flashfreezes and not worrying about it may be the play. The mirror is the mirror, and it didn’t feel that bad to me.
Thoughts on the Matchup
Not a whole lot to say here that I didn’t mention above. The mirror is pretty straightforward, and I wouldn’t be afraid to play it with this exact list. I don’t think changes are really needed, and if Spell Pierce ends up pulling its weight in other matchups, I’m more than fine with keeping it in the sideboard.
Tomorrow I take on UWB Cawblade, since that seems to be the dominant version!