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Chasing Victory – The Kentucky Open

I stuck to my guns for the Kentucky Open, much to the surprise of many others. Splashing in Faeries? That sounds terrible! Well, it was and it wasn’t.

Here is the list I played:

White Faeries

I changed a few things from my last article, namely the manabase. I tried various configurations, but the more I moved away from filter lands, the worse the mana base got. However, I did end up trying and liking Terramorphic Expanses as a way to allow me to “splash” some M10 duals into the manabase.

I needed to cut down on Mutavaults in order to get enough colored lands in, and therefore the Spellstutters needed to get reduced as well.

Due to manabase related issues, I needed to cut one of the colors to a minimum. I wanted a lot of White cards, and the Black was already down to basically just Bitterblossom, Thoughtseize, and sideboard cards, so Black was definitely going to get shaved. Thoughtseize, while typically great in this format, is hard to cast in this deck, especially on turn one.

With 13 Black sources in the above manabase, I was comfortable playing Bitterblossoms and being able to cast them the majority of the time. I felt a little short on White mana with only 14 sources, and perhaps an Island should be a Plains, since you can usually freeroll on some off color basics thanks to the filter lands.

The maindeck is a little loose, but I wanted to try out some maindeck spice. Most opponents won’t play around a [card]Zealous Persecution[/card], which makes it’s maindeck value go up a ton, but sometimes you will crush them with it in the first game, and then side it out since it’s bad in the matchup.

The Jace/Sygg split was a result of me wanting to be able to draw some cards, as I have 24 lands that don’t do anything except add mana. Initially, I had two of each, but as I added more things like Persecution, I had to cut some stuff.

I liked the idea of having a couple of Reveillarks maindeck, even to the point where I played one maindeck. In some matchups, grinding them out with Forge-Tenders, Mages, or Sowers seemed highly likely. In game one, you could even just get back a Scion and Sower after a Fallout. No matter what, Reveillark seemed like it wouldn’t be dead.

The sideboard is pretty standard, except for the Deathmarks,which were added simply because I wanted some inexpensive spot removal for Kithkin and Jund. Being Black is definitely a strike against it, but I couldn’t think of anything else.

Persecution gets the nod over Hallowed Burial for one simple reason: You don’t want to sweep your own guys away. Meddling Mage has to stay in to stop problematic cards like Honor of the Pure, Spectral Procession, and Cloudgoat Ranger. Once you have a Mage or two in play, casting Burial would just turn on all the cards that you previously shut out.

Overall, you are just working to create a favorable board situation using Sowers, Scions, and Mistbinds against decks like Jund or Kithkin, so using Burial to reset is often favorable for your opponent. They get the first chance to rebuild, and are usually sandbagging a Cloudgoat or Procession in case you have a Burial, so either way, playing zero Hallowed Burials will benefit you.

Meddling Mage usually plays the enchantment role of “no attacks, no blocks,” but once you draw a Persecution, the body actually provides you with some value.

I played Wispmare out of sheer fear of Honor the Pure. I could have played some different cards like Esper Charm, but those are simply too slow against Kithkin. You can’t reasonably expect to beat them when you wasted your third turn doing nothing. You really want to get to the point where you can start playing two spells a turn, and siding in garbage like Esper Charm won’t exactly get you to that point.

Onto the actual tournament!

Steve Sadin flew into St. Louis Thursday night and we drove to Kentucky on Friday afternoon. Sadin and my roommate Sean both played the same 4c Cascade deck, and Steve even ended up making top four.

I had most of my deck already, but locals Phillip Green and Robert Graves provided me with the rest. Thanks guys!

The tournament was 170 something players, with attendance being way down from last. I was fairly disappointed by that, but apparently more people were drawn to the release events than I expected.

Round One: UGW Turbo Fog

While shuffling, my opponent showed me a Hallowed Burial and Cryptic Command, so I figured he was with 5cc, which was extremely popular all weekend. However, when he dropped a turn two Howling Mine, I knew that I had been mistaken. It was all for the best though, as the Fog deck is a very good matchup, whereas my 5cc matchup was a lot worse than if I were playing UB Faeries.

I had the turn two Meddling Mage, naming Hallowed Burial since I didn’t really know what else to name, and that got him for a few points of damage. My hand was somewhat poor, but thanks to his Howling Mine, I was eventually able to assemble a hand of Mistbind Cliques and counterspells which he couldn’t beat.

I sided in some Halos and Wispmares, as he could have Jace or Runed Halo, and I had plenty of dead cards to take out. I even kept in a couple Paths in case he had some transformational plan with Oona or something similar. Turns out he just had some Windstorms, and that wasn’t nearly enough to beat me.

Somewhat late in game two, my opponent reduced his already slow play to the glacial pace, prompting Steve to ask me after the game, “What do you think he was hoping to draw?”

Obviously I replied, “The match.”

1-0, 2-0 in games

Round Two: Sean, 4c Cascade

We negotiated a “small” 25% split and decided that playing was the best course of action. I started game one with a Meddling Mage on Volcanic Fallout and then made a Mistbind Clique, which he Haloed on the next turn. His Finks attacked into my Mistbind in order to buy some time, as he was stuck on four lands with some Broodmates and Burials.

Somehow, I got ahead of myself and attacked the Meddling Mage into his persisted Finks. Obviously it couldn’t block since it attacked right? Thinking like that is much easier than just looking at the board

Next turn, Sean cast a Bloodbraid Elf into a Fallout, which killed some of my tokens. Still in my tilted state from my earlier mistake, I proceeded to attack my Mistbind into his Runed Halo. I still had a Sower for his Bloodbraid and a Meddling Mage for the Hallowed Burials he was obviously sitting on, so I won anyway, but it was still a fairly awkward game.

Meddling Mage, Reveillark, and Forge-Tenders grinded him out, and I could safely overextend because I knew he sided out Burials.

2-0, 4-0 in games

Round Three: Nick Becvar, Jund

I was very happy to be playing Becvar this round, as I am always looking for a challenging match. Nick, who has been called the future of American Magic, was happy to oblige me.

I had lost all three die rolls at this point, and my opener was abysmal. My six card hand of Meddling Mage, Mistbind Clique, and four lands wasn’t much better, but I felt like I had to keep. Any Faerie would give me a chance, whereas mulliganing to five with my perceived shaky mana, and less explosive Faerie deck didn’t seem like the best plan.

I drew a Path for his Putrid Leech, but my Meddling Mage (on Volcanic Fallout, probably wrong in hindsight as he definitely has four Bloodbraid Elves, but not four Fallouts) couldn’t stop his Ram Gang and Bloodbraid.

I kept a three lander and missed my fourth land drop, awkwardly drawing another uncastable spell that turn. I made a few land drops afterward and dealt with Nick’s threats via Paths and Halos. When Becvar failed to play anything after that, a Vendilion let me know what was going on. He had an Anathemancer (which I had Haloed), two Lightning Bolts (one of which kills the Vendilion), and a Fallout. I was holding some Sowers, Mistbinds, and Cryptics, so I desperately needed to hit eight lands.

He played a creature, and I drew the eighth land and Sowered it. He Bolted it at the end of my turn, and I responded with Mistbind Clique. Bituminous Blast was a crushing blow, especially after it cascaded into a Maelstrom Pulse that destroyed my pair of Runed Halos. I was left tapped out and helpless with nothing in play.

Becvar played the two Anathemancers he’d been holding, but I still have outs. I Sowered one, and hoped to Mistbind him, threatening to race him with my Cryptics, but he has another Blast, which cascaded into a removal spell for his Anathemancer. Conveniently, he had 12 lands.

2-1, 4-2 in games

Round Four: Akil “The Real Deal” Steele

Akil is a man who loves Rock-ing in every format possible, so I knew what to expect. I lost another die roll, and was under the gun quickly, as Akil started with Noble Hierarch, Gaddock Teeg, and then Chameleon Colossus. Thankfully, he spent turn four pumping, and I had two Paths for his Colossus and Teeg.

I played a Bitterblossom and he passed on his next turn after casting nothing, so I played an end of turn Vendilion to see what’s up. He Pathed my Vendilion and showed me a hand full of lands. Mistbind Clique (championing a token) Time Walked him. He resolved a Behemoth Sledge to get back in the game, and I drew the Cryptic Command a turn too late.

I used it to bounce his Hierarch and draw a card when he attacked, drawing a Meddling Mage. He played a surprise Stonehewer Giant and I peeled a Vendilion Clique for my turn. At that point, I was two points short of killing him and am in serious trouble if he’s packing two Sledges. If he’s got the Giant in his deck, I’ve got to assume he’s got more than one equipment. I could play some guys and put enough power on the giant to kill it, but then he would still have Hierarch and presumably two Sledges, so that didn’t seem like a good plan at all.

I decided to Vendilion away my Meddling Mage, drew a Zealous Persecution, and killed him.

Game two, he had a sick draw, but my Sower took his Colossus, which shut down his entire team. After that, Mistbind and Reveillark went on the offensive.

3-1, 6-2 in games

Round Five: 4c Cascade

Game one is a complicated back and forth affair, but eventually I got into a situation where I have a Sower, his Baneslayer Angel, and a Mistbind championing another Mistbind, with a Path and Vendilion in hand, to his Bloodbraid and Colossus. He was dead next turn, and when I Vendilion him during his draw step, I see Enlisted Wurm, Hallowed Burial, and Kitchen Finks.

The easy win is Pathing my Mistbind, getting back a Mistbind, and championing the Vendilion, but instead, I gave him a chance, took his Burial, and allowed him to proceed with his turn. He cast Enlisted Wurm flipping Primal Command, gained seven life and searched for Bloodbraid Elf. With his last four mana, he cast the Bloodbraid, revealing Volcanic Fallout.

At this point, I decide to actually look under my Mistbind to see what I championed, and realized I made yet another terrible mistake. Now I just had to figure out how to get myself out of the situation I put myself in. I Pathed my Mistbind, and championed my Sower with my new Clique. He attacked and I happily trade Mistbind for Colossus, and got my Sower back, while re-steals his Baneslayer.

I’m still a point short of killing him, but a Scion off the top makes all my mistakes irrelevant.

Game two is less close. I had a Mistbind Clique and Reveillark in play, with Sower and Forge-Tender in the graveyard, and two Paths in my hand. With such a commanding position, I didn’t want to risk him having kept in Hallowed Burial, so I held back my second Reveillark. He ended up playing a Bloodbraid Elf into a Finks, to go with his other Bloodbraid in play, so I had to play the second Lark and one of my Paths to stay alive.

He untapped, played a tenth land, and had enough Vivids and Reflecting Pools to confidently slam two Baneslayer Angels into play. At the end of his turn, I Pathed my own Lark, and Sowered one of his Angels. I untapped, drew a blank, and considered my options.

He was at three life, so if I attacked with only Baneslayer, he trades, goes up to eight, and I only have seven power between Lark and Sower, so that gives him two draw steps. If I attacked with Lark, Sower, and Angel, if he blocked Sower he dies, if he blocked Lark, he goes to one, but then next turn, I have to attack with just Baneslayer, giving him two more draw steps after that.

If I attacked with all of them and he made the correct block, it’s basically the same thing as if I attacked with just Baneslayer, except he gets an extra draw step.

I thought about most of this, and then attacked with everyone. He asked a judges some stuff about the new lifelink rules, eventually blocked Sower, and took lethal damage.

Steve commented behind me, “You had the read.” I informed him that I am just stupid, punted, and my opponent re-punted.

4-1, 8-2 in games

At that moment, I felt like the deck is performing well, although there were some things I would want to fix. There was a ton of 5cc in the room, all with mostly the same list, Wafo-Tapa’s from the MODO decks of the week. I didn’t anticipate that much 5cc, so my list was a little loose against them without Thoughtseize and Broken Ambitions. Meddling Mage is alright, but it’s a toss up between Fallout and Firespout, and they still have Plumeveils, which I neither want to attack into or Path.

I thought the way my deck was configured, I couldn’t win the tournament.

Round Six: A feature match, vs UWR Lark

I didn’t know what my opponent was playing and decided to start scouting hardcore next round should it come to that. His first plays of Island, Mystic Gate were somewhat confusing, but I figured that he was 5cc with a weird draw, so I named Volcanic Fallout with my Meddling Mage. He didn’t seem phased at all, but when he played a Vivid land turn four, after evoking his second Mulldrifter, I was fairly happy with my choice, even if it did look like I was getting crushed.

I just didn’t have much going on. When he declined to block my Meddler with a hardcast Mulldrifter, it was clear that he didn’t actually have any Fallouts, at least maindeck. When I tried to mount a comeback with a Sower and Scion, a Firespout not only ended my hopes, but confirmed my suspicions.

I kept a nice hand for game two, and played Bitterblossom on two, and Vendilion on three. I could have targeted myself, but didn’t really know what I should get rid of, since I had a Path and awesome four drops. I did need to hit my fourth land, but figured worse case, I could Path one of my tokens and might even need a Path to get rid of a pesky Sower.

My opponent’s hand was Siege-Gang, Wall of Reverence, Reveillark, and Cryptic Command, which I got rid of. I had all the answers at that point. A Sower and Path for his Wall and Lark, a Mistbind for tempo, and a Cryptic for his Siege-Gang, but I just needed the fourth land. I missed, and his Wall of Reverence meant that this game was probably going to go longer than I intended.

I waited another turn before Pathing my token, which was probably a mistake. That allowed him to resolve Siege-Gang, while I was still stuck doing nothing.

At the end of his turn, he declared that he wanted to gain some life, while I lapsed in thought about whether or not I wanted to Path my own guy, although to him it looked like I was thinking about whether or not I wanted to do something in response to him gaining life. I just didn’t want him to resolve all his triggers, and then think for a long time while nothing was going on, because then he could start thinking about what I could have, and deduce my hand.

I Pathed my token, and he made it clear that he was annoyed that he hadn’t resolved his life gain trigger yet, which basically made it seem like he didn’t understand why I made him wait. That made me realize that he didn’t even try to think about what I was thinking about, and was only concerned with what he was doing.

I cast Mistbind during his next upkeep, but still couldn’t attack past his Wall, so I Sowered it, attacked him, cast Sygg, gained some life and drew a card.

He excited took his turn, explicitly tapped Reflecting Pool for Green, and two other lands to cast Firespout. It took me a moment to realize exactly what had happened, but then I informed him that all of his guys died, as out of his eight or so lands, he tapped the one basic Mountain that he had.

Opponent: I said Firespout for GREEN, not Red.

Me: But you also paid Red for it by tapping your Mountain.

Opponent: But I SAID for Green.

Table Judge: Yeah, that doesn’t matter.

As a last ditch effort, he tried to respond by using Siege-Gang, but the judge informed him that the [card]Firespout[/card] had clearly already resolved.

Tilted, he proceeded to evoke his Reveillark, only netting a single Siege-Gang. He did find a second Siege-Gang though, and attacked with his three tokens into my Mutavault and Mistbind Clique. He mumbled something, but I only heard him say “damage.” Then he sacrificed all three attacking tokens and motioned for my Mistbind and Mutavault to die.

I asked if he just said “damage” or something else, like “before damage.” My opponent got angry again and told me, “I said before damage.” The table judge confirmed that is probably what he said.

However, with three attackers and two blockers, it makes sense to only sacrifice two creatures before damage, let the other one deal damage to me, then sacrifice it. This led me to believe that my opponent attempted to stack damage and then throw them, but realized that saying “damage” with the new rules implies that damage is going to resolve, so he panicked and sacrificed all of his tokens, missing a point of damage.

I ended up not contesting this, even though I probably should have.

I spent some time rebuilding with Forge-Tender, Sower on his Wall, and Scion of Oona when he used his last two remaining mana (after casting another Siege-Gang) to kill my Scion.

On his turn, he tried to use Siege-Gang on my Sower, which I prevent with Forge-Tender. On my turn, I fire up my Mutavault, as with the new rules, he either has to trade away both of his Siege-Gangs (with no tokens left) or take two extra damage, which is extremely relevant.

Instead, with his single card in hand, he threw both Commanders at me and cast Volcanic Fallout. I still had a Mistbind Clique with a Cryptic Command in hand, so I still felt fine about my position. If I had been playing around Fallout, clearly I would have kept the Forge-Tender around, but I assumed that because he cast Firespout game one, he didn’t have Fallouts. It also seemed like he would probably board out Firespouts, or if he did have it, I could have used my Cryptic.

My opponent drew and passed, while I drew and passed. He cast another Siege-Gang which I attempted to counter, but he had draw Cryptic and Siege-Gang, in that order. If only he had drawn Siege-Gang first, he would have definitely cast it into my Cryptic.

Siege-Gang took down my Mistbind and some tokens, but I Sowered his Wall back once he was out of removal. With the life gain, I was confident enough to play out a second Bitterblossom. He punished me with another topdecked Fallout, but I one-upped him with a Reveillark. He once again proved his mastery by peeling another Sower, gaining enough life to put himself out of range, while my duo Bitterblossoms killed me.

4-2, 8-4 in games

I decided to stay in to get more practice with my deck, but lost to WG Tokens and dropped. In short, I won the game I cast [card]Zealous Persecution[/card], lost a game I was stuck on three, and lost a game that went late. He activated three Heights, and eventually burned me out with Cloudthresher.

4-3, 9-5 in games

Andrew Shrout piloted a somewhat similar Faeries deck to the top eight, but lost to Chris Andersen playing Elves.

The rules changes didn’t come into play often, although there are certainly some cards that get worse when you can’t stack damage. I’m curious to see how big of an impact it makes on limited though, especially for Shard block and Nationals.

I split an Extended tournament for duals on Sunday with Elves, and the biggest impact I saw the entire weekend was that it was harder to grind out a Zoo deck with Riptide Lab or Wirewood Symbiote.

If you’re looking to play a Fae deck that is better against Fallouts, Stags, Bloodbraids, look no further, but the above list is very soft against 5cc, which is very popular at the moment. The deck needs to be reconfigured, which I may do in the future, but right now, the Red splash seems like a better option.

However, Yuuya’s Warren Weirdings are a great answer to Stag that seemingly everyone missed. I was looking for an Edict effect, but couldn’t fine one, but apparently didn’t look hard enough. Maybe UB Faeries with a Castle or two, and some Weirdings in the sideboard is the way to do it.

GerryT

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