Hello. For those of you who don’t know me, I am Katsuhiro Mori.
I am very happy to be given the opportunity to write articles like this one. For my first, I think I would like to write about how this year I put forth my best effort at the Japanese National Championship.
First of all, the big decks in the current Standard environment are Jund, Conscription Bant, and Naya, followed by Blue/White, Planeswalker Control, and Turbo Land, with Mono-Red in the minority. For past tournaments I had shown a tendency of choosing a strong control deck, but when I was testing all of the decks in this format I realized some things.
The first was that Jund was very strong, but the second was that Mono-Red’s main deck winning percentage was extremely high. I tested various things and came to the conclusion that playing Mono-Red would give me an advantage versus the rest of the field. So, I began fine-tuning the build.
Projecting the Meta
Tuning decks on Magic Online is not terribly beneficial even under normal circumstances, and Jund was sideboarding in Dragon’s Claw while white decks added Kor Firewalker. There were enough heartbreaking losses to make me want for a moment to retire Mono-Red and pick up Jund. However, because there was no Mono-Red in the most recent GP Top 8s, I thought this archetype would not be used at the Japanese National Championship and prepared my deck accordingly.
Here is what I played:
In tuning my deck, I discovered that if my opponent was not playing white I would almost never lose game one. I made the decision to put Quenchable Fire in the main deck strictly to combat Jund.
Usually if I had more than one land I could avoid mana problems because my deck’s potential for success was high with even just a few mana sources, and I made certain of this for a long time. Also, the six fetch lands I played were not just for Searing Blaze, rather, I used them because I thought that proactively thinning my deck with fetch lands served as a defense against drawing too many basics.
I put together this deck with the idea that Kor Firewalker was not being played, but I was uncomfortable with Kargan Dragonlord in the sideboard. In order to succeed even in the worst situations when games dragged on, I tried putting two copies in the main deck.
Because I became aware that Mono-Red was quite strong in the process of tuning my deck, I became worried about seeing four copies of Dragon’s Claw across the table. The mirror match would be decided by the number of copies of Dragon’s Claw in play, but I also did not know whether I would encounter this match-up. There were situations where I would want to use this card against other decks, and because playing the mirror and losing would be bad, I opted for two copies. Because I really dislike thinking “I don’t want to play against this deck!” I aim to give my deck an advantage against whatever I might encounter. Lately, the one thing I can’t stand is Kor Firewalker.
Because I had the sense that I would be able to shave off exactly 20 life with a seven card hand, I decided to proactively keep some hands that would otherwise make me anxious.
Incidentally, there are not very many players who choose not to attack with Goblin Guide when able. I am careful about creating card advantage for my opponent when I am only be getting two damage out of the exchange. I was unsure of what to do if my opponent were to turn up land, and because of this at times when it was better not to attack I resolved myself not to.
With these ideas, I finally reached the day of the Japanese National Championship.
The first round I played against Conscription Bant.
Putting in Cunning Sparkmage and Basilisk Collar from my sideboard resulted in a complete shutout. Please be cautious, because there are cases where a popular deck can become easy prey and lose to a deck that has been carefully tuned to the metagame.
Rounds two, three and four were all Jund!
My opponents boarded in Doom Blade and I took out all of my easily dealt with Ball Lightnings and boarded in Quenchable Fire and Siege-Gang Commander. Based on when my opponent had mana untapped, I would tap out completely for burn spells and was able to defend all of my creatures resulting in a winnable match with little risk.
Something I had to be especially careful of was if my opponent was approaching four mana and Goblin Guide was no longer in play. Goblin Guide being removed by the cascade of my opponent’s Bloodbraid Elf was unpleasant because the Guide did all of the work until around turn three. Although my opponents played defensively because they could not reasonably attack, they proactively played Bloodbraid Elf. Burst Lightning and Searing Blaze dealt with the Elf as much as possible, since protecting my own life total was the first step to victory.
And, because on the fourth turn I expected no creatures to remain on the board, I hoped my opponent would flip removal with Bloodbraid Elf. The card I would least like to see my opponent flip off the Elf was Sprouting Thrinax, but when I burned out the Bloodbraid Elf, even the worst did not become a threat. With the exception of the damage of the Elf, because of the assault of burn spells and fliers I came out ahead and won.
When Jund plays a red source, if they leave one mana up they are definitely holding Lightning Bolt. If you have gotten hit once, absolutely only commit to Ball Lightning when your opponent taps out. Because my opponents frequently tapped out for Bloodbraid Elf, burning it out and then playing Ball Lightning on the next turn proved to be the time I used that card the most.
I was blessed with the good fortune of success, but it is no mistake that you need to be careful because there are people not so different from me who consider Jund the strongest deck and want to win with it.
Look for the rest of this report later this week!
Editor’s Note: Due to the need for translation, the rest of Katsuhiro’s report will be up later this week, so please excuse the brevity of Part 1.