Chasing Victory – Seeing Red at Regionals

While I couldn’t play in Regionals, I went anyway, mainly thanks to Ogre’s Games, which hosted two Standard tournaments for power during Regionals and on the Sunday after. My roommate Sean had to play in Regionals, while my other roommate Penick basically in the same boat as me. We just wanted to play in the power tournaments to test for upcoming tournaments.

Sean had decided a while ago to play RDW and I wasn’t opposed to the idea. Despite my long standing hatred for Red decks, I had all but given up at this point, and this “red” deck wasn’t really red at all. Cards like Figure of Destiny and Demigod of Revenge are very powerful, and while a normal Red aggro deck might just die when they mulligan to five or when an opponent has something like a Loxodon Hierarch, this red deck hits hard and recovers from mulligans easily.

The main issue was getting RDW to beat WB. Chaotic Backlash was pretty awesome, but it required a lot of setup. WB players would most likely be bringing in Burrenton Forge-Tenders, so Red needed a way around that. There were plenty of answers available between Infest, Everlasting Torment, and Deathmark, but we needed to find the right configuration. There was plenty we needed to test and not much time.

Sean and I ended up deciding (with the help of Kyle Boddy and Max McCall) that Infesting or Fallouting their first wave of guys was necessary, and then we’d try to use Backlash to finish them off later. In order to do that, we needed enough Torments, Infests, and Deathmarks to ensure that Forge-Tender was never giving us trouble.

Sean’s deck was a little different, but I ended up registering this:

RB Aggro

A few things about the deck:

I don’t like Blightning. The decks that it’s good against don’t really exist anymore, but on top of that, I want something that affects the board.

Reflecting Pool is in the deck to both cast Infest and to also minimize damage from Sulfurous Springs. If I didn’t run Infests or other double black spells, I probably wouldn’t run any Pools.

Mogg Fanatic is the weakest card in the deck, but it’s decent with Fallout, good against Noble Hierarch decks, and is a goblin for Auntie’s Hovel. Murderous Redcap is another option if you want to slow the deck down even more.

Splashing Bloodbraid Elf (and yes, slowing the deck down even more) might be correct. That card is just too good.

The sideboard Bituminous Blasts were awesome. Against any non token creature deck, Blasts are insane. You get to kill a giant threat and then roll the dice to see if you get something else good.

Jeff Blyden was kind enough to lend me the entire deck, and Penick played Wb Kithkin, basically to test out a newish deck. The tournament had only something like 16 players, since everyone seemed to be more interested in Regionals instead of winning a very easy Mox. I’m not a huge Swiss plus one fan, but I don’t mind playing in one every once in a while.

Round one:

I played against a 5cc variant. He was kind of mana screwed game one with a bunch of [card Cascade Bluffs]filter lands[/card] and didn’t put up much resistance. None of his lands produced White, so I didn’t really feel like he was going to have Runed Halo or Story Circle. I figured I was going to have to fight through some Broodmate Dragons, so I brought in the Bituminous Blasts.

My opponent cast a Story Circle very early, so naturally game two went on for quite a while. I was very mindful of the remaining time in the round, but kept playing as long as I thought I had enough time to finish game three. I wanted to see more of my opponent’s deck, but also thought I might be able to deck him. In the end, that wasn’t the case, as he drew enough Broodmates and Resounding Thunders to kill me.

I brought in the Torments, since I figured the only way I could lose was to his Circle. It didn’t really matter though, as he stumbled again in game three, while Figure and Demigod tore him apart.

Round two:

I played against a very solid Japanese player with Chapin’s 5c deck, which is basically just Jund splashing Cryptic. I got in some early beatdowns with Goblin Outlander and Ram Gang, and decided to play out a second Outlander to get around his Kitchen Finks. I had the read that he didn’t have the Jund Charm, but it turns out he had the Maelstrom Pulse, and I felt awfully stupid. Lesson learned at least.

We continued trading cards while his mana base gave him a little trouble. Instead of being able to play two spells a turn, he was bottlenecked, which allowed me to get in a few extra points of damage. He managed to stabilize, but I had six lands and a lethal Anathemancer in the graveyard. My opponent made a slight mistake where he Jund Charmed away my graveyard on his turn. This gave me a window to topdeck a Demigod and kill him with it, the turn before his Finks and Putrid Leech killed me. I’m not sure if he had a Cryptic or anything that he could have used to stop my Demigod, but he didn’t have to Charm the Mancer on his turn.

I brought in Blasts and Torments, as I expected the Forge-Tenders and Runed Halos from Chapin’s list. Once again, Anathemancer dealt a ton of damage to him, and since I didn’t walk right into Maelstrom Pulse, I won pretty easily.

Afterward, we talked a bit about my deck, specifically why I didn’t have Blightning, and watched a neighboring match of Fae vs. WB. During game three, the WB player didn’t do much except play some Heights and a Wispmare once Scion started beating him down. He continued to not do much, and at the end of the game threw down his hand of two Celestial Purges. That is why you shouldn’t try to only fight Bitterblossom, and should especially try to keep your deck aggressive.

I was also watching Penick play against GB Elves, and Penick looked to be in a pretty poor position. His opponent attacked with Vanquisher, played a post combat Vanquisher, revealing an Imperious Perfect, which he also tried to play, except he left open three colorless lands. I laughed and decided to focus on watching that match while Penick informed him that he couldn’t cast it. His opponent disagreed, rearranged his lands, and then lied to Penick about what he left open. Penick, always observant, went back over exactly what happened, how his opponent missed a point of damage, and how his opponent mistapped his lands.

When I realized that his opponent was going to continue lying to my roommate for an advantage, I stepped up and told Penick’s opponent that I saw exactly what happened. When he saw that it was two against one, he backed down, admitted he was wrong, and the match moved on, with Penick eventually winning (hmm, this sounds like a situation where I might have involved a judge to try and nail the dude; this sort of scumminess shouldn’t go unpunished – LSV).

Round Three:

I played against a Jund Ramp deck and it didn’t go well. He won the die roll, played a Rampant Growth, Terminate, cast Shriekmaw, and then a Broodmate. Basically, the nut draw. I didn’t draw nearly enough Demigods to be able to beat that.

While thinking about what to sideboard, I realized I didn’t have much to bring in. I brought in the two Blasts and cut two Outlanders. I mulliganed a hand that had lands and spells, but Magma Spray, Flame Javelin, Anathemancer, and lands wasn’t going to get the job done. I mulliganed into the nuts, and my opponent was on the defensive. He was kind of mana screwed and Troll Ascetic wasn’t nearly enough stop me.

For the third game I mulliganed again, and the same kind of do nothing Mancer, Spray, lands hand. Perhaps I should have mulliganed again. He played a Rampant Growth, a Loxodon Warhammer, and then a Troll Ascetic. He went to equip the Hammer, but then thought better of it. He then moved to equip again, but then finally decided to pass the turn. I had drawn a Fallout a couple turns ago, and was pretty sad, as now I basically had no outs.

Next turn, he equipped and attacked, but I didn’t want to just blow my Fallout while he had a Treetop and I had a Magma Spray. I was definitely going to end up taking a hit from his Troll, so I just decided to take the hit and try to get his Treetop next turn. My opponent continued to play it safe and attacked with just a Troll. After a few more turns of drawing lands, I lost, although I was probably going to lose once he didn’t equip his Troll in the first place.

I died holding two Magma Sprays, as most Jund decks have Kitchen Finks, but it seemed like my opponent was playing Trolls instead. While I don’t agree with his decision, it probably won him that game. With a loss, I was probably out of contention, but wanted to keep playing for experience.

Round Four

I played against WB Tokens next, but the games weren’t very interesting as my opponent mulliganned every game while I kept all my openers.

Round Five

In the final round, I played against a Grixis/Demigod deck, and mulliganed to five game one. My opponent commented that it was looking good for him. I started with an Outlander and a Ram-Gang, while he drew some cards and developed his mana base. My Outlander died to a Fallout, and Demigod hit me for five, but I returned the favor.

He untapped and confidently cast Cruel Ultimatum. It would put me to seven and him back up to ten, but I had to think about what to sacrifice. If I sacked a Demigod, drawing another one would be insane, but wouldn’t kill him if he kept his guy back, which I assumed he would do. With seven cards in hand, he was going to win if he got to untap, so no reason to risk attacking. If I sacked Ram-Gang and drew Demigod, I could probably trade mine with my opponent and then cast the second one, ending up with a commanding board position, although vs. his full grip. Sacking the Ram-Gang was the fairly obvious play.

My opponent gave the board the once over, and said, “Well, if you draw an Incinerate, I lose,” noting my on-board Ghitu Encampment. At this point, I should have told him that I’m not playing Incinerate, as that would further cement his decision to attack, but at the time, I couldn’t comprehend what was going on. Attacking was very bad for him, and he did it anyway. Thankfully, my deck was kind and rewarded me with a lethal Anathemancer, while my opponent stared in disbelief.

In the second game, I had to fight through a bunch of Plumeveils, but Ram-Gang does that quite nicely. Demigod and Anathemancer once again proved their worth, dealing my opponent huge chunks of damage.

In the end, I finished 4-1 with Rb, Penick went 2-2 with Wb Kithkin, and Sean won regionals with Rb. Despite our “good” records, Sean and I both agreed that we didn’t really want to play the Red deck anymore. Playing Red just isn’t my style, sitting there, empty-handed with a threat in play, unable to know whether or not it was good, and not being able to do anything about it.

However, there is a certain allure there, a sudden rush when you rip that lethal Demigod or Anathemancer, and realize you just stole victory from the jaws of defeat. But that’s not why I want to play Magic. If I wanted that kind of rush, I would just start gambling. In Magic, I am going to play what I feel will get me the most wins, not something requires me to gamble.

For Sunday, I decided to switch it up, and shotgunned Sean’s WB Token deck. I didn’t run Mind Stones, but instead stuck to a “stock” list, as I wanted to be aggressive in an open field, as opposed to overly skewed towards the mirror.

I’d love to tell you about how I won a Lotus, but my tournament was over quickly. I lost round one to a Bant deck, as Rafiq is quite the beater. I mulliganned to five game two and crushed him, but naturally lost the games where I kept seven cards. I thought I was winning the third game when I got to Wrath away three guys and persist a Finks, but his follow-up Rafiq and Sledge were good enough.

Round two I was again in a commanding position game three, this time against WR. I had a spare Austere that I used to kill his Glorious Anthem and my Bitterblossom, as I was at five life, had enough guys, and didn’t want to lose to a peeled Siege-Gang, as he had nine lands. Instead, he drew Fallout, Reveillark, Reveillark, which made the game close. I cast a second Goat and prepared to kill him next turn, but he drew another Fallout to make my attack not lethal, and then I died. I actually made a mistake to make that Fallout relevant, so there was a little justice in that he ripped to beat me.

I ended up sticking it out and winning a few more matches, but those results don’t really matter. I liked the WB deck, and if I were playing better, it probably would have shown in my results.

I ended up playing WG Tokens in a MODO Premier Event on Monday and finished in the top eight, but took a quick exit thanks to RDW. As of right now, I’m still unsure what I’m going to play in GP Barcelona, but WG Tokens is one of the frontrunners. Dauntless Escort is one of the best cards I’ve seen in recent memory, and I wouldn’t mind playing WG simply because of that guy.

Combo Swans is a pretty awesome new deck that I finaled a PE with on Tuesday, and it was on my short list of decks I would consider playing, but only because of the fact that it wasn’t a known quantity. Now it seems to be everywhere, so there is basically no reason for me to play it anymore.

Next week: A GP Barcelona report!


5 thoughts on “Chasing Victory – Seeing Red at Regionals”

  1. I don’t understand why the 5c Bloodbraid player could have allowed you to take your turn with the Anathemancer in the yard. If you draw a land you just kill him, so he has to cast the Jund Charm some time before your mainphase. The chance of you drawing a land is much higher than drawing a Demigod, so why wouldn’t he remove it?

    Oh, and pimp WG Tokens… That deck is NUTS

  2. No, thats not how unearth works. He can wait until you pay the mana then use the charm in response to the unearth ability.

  3. You can do it in response to the cost for unearthing. So he taps out, and then he jund charms and removes the graveyard. Basically ending his turn.

  4. I’m guessing his opponent just didn’t know unearth works that way. It’s intuitive if you really think about it being an activated ability and all that, but most graveyard effects haven’t worked that way in the past, so most people don’t actually understand they can do that.

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