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Chasing Victory – Musing about Seattle

When I departed Barcelona for Seattle (yus!), I had no idea what to play in the upcoming GP. Swans didn’t exactly serve me well, but I was still very pleased with the deck, at least for Barcelona. In Spain, Swans seemed to be an unknown quantity to most people, whereas I expected Americans to be well informed by the time Seattle rolled around. I didn’t think Swans could handle a barrage of hate cards from any deck in Standard, as Swans was barely better than everything else when no one had any hate.

So Swans was out, what else was there? Faeries was certainly going to have a resurgence, as everyone just assumed that it beat Swans, even though that wasn’t really the case. I wanted something that would be solid against Faeries, but it wasn’t really a necessity. I’ve played in a few tournaments (Grand Prix Denver being one of them), where I actively said I didn’t want to play against Faeries. I still went 3-1 vs. it there, despite my matchup not being “great.”

Why not just play Faeries? Well, like I said, I didn’t believe that it had a great Swans matchup. Sure, you can probably keep their combo pieces off the table, but what happens when they draw a couple Bloodbraid Elves? You have to keep countering Seismic Assault since it’s almost always game over, and then they just beat you down with Elves and Trees. Their sideboard land destruction plan further complicates things.

I also didn’t like the matchup against the token decks. If they have a fast start or even just win the die roll and play around Broken Ambitions, you can be in a world of trouble with Fae. There’s almost nothing you can use to mount a comeback. Infest just taps you out and allows their second wave of guys to resolve. You can try grinding them out with Plumeveils and Peppersmokes, but that didn’t even work when I was playing stuff like Demigod control and had Fallouts. WB and WG are just very resilient decks, and that makes them a pain to play against, especially with a deck as fragile as Faeries.

Michael Jacob is a man who’s opinion I respect, and he finished in the money with UW Lark, and he even took some time out of his busy schedule to hammer with my Swan deck with his Meddling Mages. I liked the look of his deck, but as always, WB was a tough matchup. You used to be able to just cast [card]Austere Command[/card] and win the game on the spot, but not so much anymore. Persist guys plus Ajani give the deck an entirely new dimension that just so happens to crush control decks.

Windborn Muse hit me as possible solution, but it would need some assistance. If you play a Muse and you both sit there, a few different things are going to happen:

1) They just build a big guy and hit you with it over and over, easily paying for Muse’s cost. Muse is at best when it slows down their swarm draw, but you can’t really use it to lock them out of the attack step unless you have find multiples or you have some way to blank the one guy they can keep attacking with.

2) They kill it and continue on their merry way of bashing your face in.

3) You put them in the soft lock, but can’t actually kill them because of the giant army they assemble. If you were to sweep the board, they would get some guys back from persist, activate Ajani, and then you probably lose.

For the first problem, I decided to run something along the lines of Oona or Mistmeadow Witch. As long as I had a constant stream of blockers to go with the Muses, I should be fine.

For number two, I had Meddling Mages and Glen Elendra Archmages to lock out their Path to Exiles (or Terrors) and Murderous Redcaps. Hopefully they didn’t decide to spice up their lists by varying their removal. If so, I was probably dead.

Oona would also serve as a way to kill them, and provide a solid threat for 5cc, as I expected that deck to rise a bit in popularity as well. However, Cryptic Command was probably better overall, as you could assemble your own mini-army and use that as your finisher. I didn’t have any Cryptics in the initial list because they don’t have very much synergy with the rest of the deck, as in you have a hard time keeping open four mana in your all sorcery deck. Cryptic was probably better on average against any other random deck, whereas Oona was probably slow and bad, so Cryptics were back in.

Cryptic was never terrible, but that’s not exactly the reason I want to give for explaining why something is in my deck. If a card is only “not terrible,” then there is probably another card out there that fits the description of “awesome.” I had a lot of people ask why I wasn’t playing Cryptic, or saying that playing less than four Cryptics is “stupid,” but that simply isn’t true. Sacred cows don’t exist, and thinking like that will only close you off from other ideas.

Is Cryptic very awkward in a Reveillark deck? Yes, definitely. Am I still going to play it? Most likely, but if I didn’t need a way to break a stalled board against tokens, I would have played Negate instead.

Seattle was awesome. I stayed at Kyle Boddy’s place, a man who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and the creator of Boddy Red. Cedric was also there, but not in top form, as apparently he was allergic to Kyle’s cats.

We did a few live drafts with the legendary Aceman, aka Charles Gendron Dupont, and I did quite a few MODO drafts. For the first time in a while, I was actually doing well in the 8-4 queues. I haven’t played that much limited in the past few years, as over time I became bored of it, as constructed is generally more rewarding. However, I seemed to actually grasp what was going on, and was winning most of the drafts I was playing in.

On top of it all, it didn’t seem to be because I was running good either, as my draws would sometimes be mediocre, and most of my games were hard fought battles. I did lose a draft when I tagged Aceman in for a game because my pizza was ready. Aside from always wanting to cast [card]Viscera Dragger[/card] when I wanted to cycle it, Aceman was always correcting my plays, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. Clearly he would just win, and it would be like I got a bye while enjoying my delicious pizza.

Instead, he cast Tidehollow Strix into his opponent’s Scattershot Archers and he lost a few turns later. To be fair, Aceman had a plan, but it involved Branching Bolt-ing his opponent’s Waveskimmer Aven with Naya Obelisk, Plains, and Island.

We also discussed what sort of deck he should play in the Grand Prix, and I suggested RB Painter’s Servant/Chaotic Backlash, as the Aceman was currently high on the Painter/Grindstone combo in his Singleton deck, and he seemed pretty excited about the idea. “Sadly,” he found someone with a normal RB deck instead, and made top four of the GP instead.

With all this drafting, I didn’t have any time for Standard, but even if I did, I probably wouldn’t have played a game. I know the format, I know the decks, and there’s not much I can gain from playing more games unless I just wanted to practice with my deck.

I was nearly finished brainstorming with my Lark deck. I had cut Wraths at one point, as I figured I would never want to cast them once I assembled the Muse “lock,” but after an AIM conversation with Mark Herberholz, I changed my mind. He said that no Wraths probably meant that I had to always have a fluid draw against aggressive decks, and it made perfect sense. I was not always going to curve out with Meddling Mage into Muse, and in those games where I had to play a last ditch Muse and they had a removal spell, I would just be drawing dead. Wrath at least gives you outs.

In the car ride to the venue, I decided I wanted more than just Mind Stone to ramp from two mana to four mana, but couldn’t think of anything good that was in UW. Bloom Tender popped into my head, and I started brewing up another list while Brian Six chided me for only playing three Cryptics.

At the site, I found Michael Jacob, and he told me to cut Sowers, as they were pretty bad for him. I thought they would be solid, as I can turn three them if necessary, and they would draw fire from the Muses, but I did need some space for Wraths, and those seemed much better against aggro on average.

LSV and PV were building every deck in the format, playing five games, and declaring them trash. They couldn’t seem to make up their mind, all the while saying that I was stupid to play the Tender list.

I ran into Steve Sadin, and he was planning on playing with Bloodhall Oozes. He also couldn’t stop making Ooze related puns such as, “Ooze da man?” or “You’re going to looze if you play that Tender deck.”

After I had my list more or less finished, I was walking around the site and sat down next to Brian Six and DJ Kastner to watch them battle. DJ was playing Chapin’s new 5CB list, now with Sygg, River Cutthroat. Sygg struck me as a clever card that probably put that deck over the top, especially now as the deck was done messing around with crappy cards like Cruel Ultimatum, and was all about giving the business with Boggart Ram Gangs.

I wanted to audible. I wasn’t entirely sure about my deck anyway, and I had the feeling for a few weeks that Jund aggro was probably one of the best decks, but didn’t really want to put in the time to tune a list. It always felt like the deck was missing something, and Sygg was probably it.

I headed to LSV’s room to attempt to brew up a Jund list. Some of the people suggested I try the Elf package that Nassif had in his deck, as the Jund deck was basically all threes and not many two drops. I built a rough list and battled against Luis with Faeries. The games where I was on the play felt amazing, while the games I was on the draw were often a grind. I felt like the matchup would be really good if I had some time, but in the end I just decided to scrap it and go to bed.

In the morning, Justin Meyer found me and copied my list, as he had no idea what to play either. As far as I know, we were the only two people playing the deck in the tournament. Here’s the masterpiece we registered:

Bloom Lark

 

 

Round Four, I played against GB Elves and got the best draws I had of the tournament. I constantly had gas in the games I won, but the matchup should be easy anyway. Travis, my opponent, almost made top eight himself, which is very impressive considering he lost to me and my pile.

4-0

Fifth round I was up a game against WB Tokens, after he failed to do much of anything in the first game. Second game I kept a hand with two Seaside Citadels and a Mind Stone on the draw and failed to draw another land. For the final game, I kept

 

I played the lands and Mind Stone, while he Scullered me, taking my Mind Stone. I drew another blank and passed, while he Scullered me again. I drew another Muse and passed, while he Scullered that as well. The game went on for a few more turns, but I failed to draw another land.

4-1

Round Six I played against a good player with Swans. He seemed to be playing straight Calafell’s list, which I was more than happy with. No Rain of Tears in my future made me happy. In the first game, I Cryptic Commanded a Swans and played Archmage with a mana open. We played draw go for a while before I added a second Archmage. A Meddling Mage later, and he was scooping em up.

Second game, he started with a turn three Crusher, but I had the Runed Halo for that, and a Pithing Needle for Seismic Assault. Archmage held off his Bloodbraid Elf, and Mistmeadow Witch showed up to nearly lock him out. Once I got up to 12 mana or so, he had to start attacking with his Swans and Bloodbraids, since he couldn’t really kill me any other way. Once I started drawing cards off his Swans, and then countered all of his Maelstrom Pulses, he conceded.

5-1

Round seven I was paired against Gaudenis Vidugiris, a well known player from Madison, Wisconsin. Gau was back to playing his trusty Fae deck, which was obviously bad news for me. I played game one as if I had Cryptic Command, always leaving open four mana when presenting Gau with a threat he had to deal with. Eventually, he cast a midgame Peek and the jig was up. I had a couple Windborn Muses holding the fort, but eventually had to trade one of them with a Mistbind Clique, the other got bounced, and I was very dead.

He Thoughtseized me second game, but I drew quite well. First, a Mind Stone, then a Jace, then a Cloudthresher that wrecked his last ditch effort to Mistbind me. Naturally, third game I got destroyed.

5-2

I was happy to see that I was playing against another Swan deck round eight, and Meddling Mage on Assault took game one. Second game, I had a Pithing Needle, but that doesn’t stop a hoard of Bloodbraids. In the final game, I kept

On turn seven, I played my seventh land, showed him four more in my hand, and conceded to his mini army.

5-3, dropped

It’s kind of funny how things work. It’s been a while since I just felt like I got pretty unlucky in the games I lost, like where I keep a two lander and just never get there, or keep a hand with four spells and three lands, and draw only one more spell, but occasionally it happens.

The thing is, if I had played a better deck, I would have been able to put up a fight with those types of hands. There is always something you could have done differently, and in this case it was probably just go with my gut and sleeve up some Syggs, but what can you do after the fact? Simply reflect and realize you made some mistakes, and try not to make those in the future.

I figured that with the Tender deck, which was supposedly bad, at least according to all my friends, I would have to get kind of lucky to win some matches, or at least have to not get unlucky, but that is the exact opposite of what happened. In two matches where I was heavily favored, against decks that I built my deck to beat, I just lost multiple games to things I couldn’t control.

So if I felt that the deck I was registering was bad, and everyone else was telling me it was bad, why did I play it? A couple reasons actually, with the first being I didn’t really trust my friends. They didn’t know what I was thinking, how my list made sense (at least the entire Muse plan vs. aggressive decks), and some of them were registering Bloodhall Oozes. How could I trust someone that was playing Bloodhall Ooze? Clearly they had no idea what they were talking about. Therefore, if they thought my deck sucked, it probably meant my deck was awesome.

Secondly, if I did poorly, people would just assume it was because the deck was bad, and not through any fault of my own.

Next week: Hawaii!

GerryT

13 thoughts on “Chasing Victory – Musing about Seattle”

  1. 4x Knight of the White Orchid
    4x Kitchen Finks
    3x Sower of Temptation
    3x Glen Elendra Archmage
    4x Reveillark
    4x Mulldrifter
    2x Mirror Entity

    3x Wrath of God
    4x Path to Exile
    1x Cryptic Command
    1x Martial Coup
    3x Mind Stone
    4x Fieldmist Borderpost

    4x Mystic Gate
    2x Adarkar Wastes
    1x Springjack Pasture
    7x Plains
    6x Islands

    SB:
    3x Windborn Muse
    1x Martial Coup
    4x Meddling Mage
    2x Pithing Needle
    3x Negate
    2x Knight-Captain of Eos

    Here is a really good Lark list that has treated me very well over the past few weeks. I don’t think green is really necessary for Bloom Tender, as the Ko2s + Mind Stones + Borderposts already border on broken mana acceleration, and they don’t have de-synergy with the rest of the deck like the Tender does. The Mirror Entities seem really bad, but they are actually pretty nuts. They can turn losing race situations into win out-of-nowhere situations. They are also quite good as a sacrifice outlet, which comes up more often than you’d think. I’ve also won many games Martial Couping and then just dropping a Mirror Entity to swing for way more damage than should be possible. The singleton Cryptic is good as a singleton, as it makes them play around the “rest of them” and makes them sideboard terribly. Nice Guttural Responses. I wouldn’t recommend them in more copies than one, because the deck is pretty clunky without them and we play so many sorceries that they are not effective as counterspells.

    The rest of the deck is pretty self-explanatory, the typical Mulldrifter-Reveillark-Archmage-Sower package that is still really good. Reveillark is just way too powerful not to be playing with right now, and Boat Brew sucks. The 5CB list cannot actually beat this ever, so if you expect that to be popular at San Paulo I suggest at least testing this. It beats everything aside from Faeries and Swans pretty handily, so if you’re comfortable with that, sleeve this shit up and at least give it a chance.

    Oh and btw, the best card in the deck is Knight of the White Orchid, and it’s not really close.

  2. Dakonblackblade

    Im not a top player. However these decks seem to me that have relevant plays only after the 4th mana drop. Read so many reports , saying how missing the 4th land drop screwed them over. The only reason i dont like Reveillark based decks.

  3. How unfortunate. I played against this list in the middle of day 1 and got savagely crushed by Windborn Muse x2, Mage on Terror, Mage on Redcap, and a steady flow of random guys. Almost pulled it out with a sculler into spectral into triple ZP to eat the cryptic command + alpha plan, but then died a horrible death to the post-combat wrath with larks on the board. So, the deck may be bad, but it had some good moments.

  4. – 4 Windborn Muse
    – Some Land

    + Land that produces green
    + 4 seedborn muse

    Seedborn + countermagic>Windborn’s soft mana locks

  5. john=> 1uuu
    the textless cryptic command has that option somewhere in between untap 10 lands and your opponent discards his hand. look through it again. ;p

    amarsir=> the list is in the article.. lol..

    Gerry => cryptic command in a deck that is trying to cast a 5 mana creature is not that great even though everyone plays it just cos it’s the best spell around. It’s not like pple would ever have 9 mana to cast lark+cryptic mana up vs decks with counters.

    still, green for only bloom tender n cloudtresher looks odd.. maybe if u had more use for the green mana it would justify the deck..

  6. If you saw all of your friends (who you can assume are good players) decide to play Faeries, and you respect their opinion, shouldn’t you also assume that playing Reveillark is a bad idea, as your greatest competition in the tournament (especially if you plan to do well) are playing a horrible matchup? On another note, Bloom Tender is great, but not worth it imo. Borderposts and Knight of the White Orchid is enough acceleration, and on-color, while providing a strong body for the early game on defense, or offense against a slow control deck. Your deck has no ability to be aggressive, as you are lacking Kitchen Finks. Sure, you have inevitability against aggressive decks, but you have no game against any control deck of any fashion. Swans and aggressive decks should have been cake, but you can’t expect to play against those every round, as most people will try to mimic LSV, Sam Black, or PVDDR. Overall I think your reasoning for Reveillark was sound, but the execution was rather poor. Great read though, and GL in Hawaii.

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