The past couple of weeks have been pretty exciting. My trip started out with a stop in Somerset, NJ for the Standard Open on the first day, and the first ever Team Sealed Open on the second. On day one, I played Jund as per the usual, and I have to say I loved it. I ripped through the Swiss with ease, starting out 9-0-1 and winning my first round of Top 8 in about 10 minutes. The deck was totally insane and I felt heavily advantaged in every matchup. Here is the list I used:
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Sire of Insanity
3 Olivia Voldaren
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Liliana of the Veil
4 Blood Crypt
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Dragonskull Summit
2 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground
4 Woodland Cemetery
1 Rakdos Keyrune
2 Ground Seal
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Tragic Slip
3 Bonfire of the Damned
2 Mizzium Mortars
1 Rakdos’s Return
2 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Deadbridge Chant
1 Ground Seal
2 Tragic Slip
2 Liliana of the Veil
2 Vraska the Unseen
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Pillar of Flame
1 Rakdos’s Return[/deck]
The biggest addition to the deck has got to be [card]Sire of Insanity[/card], and he lived up to his name. Reid played against an Esper control deck, and he simply plopped down a [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] and a [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] and watched as his opponent with loads of untapped mana discarded a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card], [card]Azorius Charm[/card], [card]Supreme Verdict[/card], and [card]Dissipate[/card]. The Sire was much more fair for me, but still a potent threat.
One often-overlooked advantage of [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] is that he makes [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card] much better. He works well with the Wolf Run because he is a high-power creature without evasion, but also because your opponent cannot respond to it, and will just be forced to take the full amount of damage every turn.
I still opted to play 1 [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] because, even though [card]Sire of Insanity[/card] looks like it’s a better card, they are very different. Often you don’t want to cast Sire because you still have tons of gas in hand or you aren’t advantaged on the board—it puts both players at an even footing but progresses your board, [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] allows you to clear out your opponent’s hand and still have all your sweet business spells left over to cast on a defenseless opponent. [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] also can do things that are more exciting for the mana costs of five and twelve—sometimes it will be useful in the early game, or just kill them when instead you would just have a creature.
It is also important to have a nice balance, because drawing one of each is WAY better than drawing two of either, and sometimes a [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] can draw out a counterspell allowing a Sire to resolve. A funny story from the SCG Open: someone faced a player who played his sixth land, tanked for a long time, and passed the turn. Then, he had to discard his hand to a [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card] and discarded three [card]Sire of Insanity[/card]. Later, he said, “well I didn’t want to cast one and discard two Sire of Insanity!”
[card]Putrefy[/card] was another add to the deck was that absolutely stellar. I’ve long been tired of casting [card]Murder[/card], and [card]Putrefy[/card] is a welcome upgrade. I may even want to play more than two in the deck in the future.
Lastly, I added one copy of [card]Deadbridge Chant[/card] to the sideboard, which was pretty nice overall. We decided to add it to the deck instead of a [card]Staff of Nin[/card] because of its resiliency to [card]Putrefy[/card], which was actually relevant. I played a Jund mirror at one point and my opponent had 5 lands in play. I really didn’t like any of my plays like [card]Olivia Voldaren[/card], [card]Thragtusk[/card], and [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card] because they would force me to tap out, and if he has end-of-turn [card]Putrefy[/card] plus a land and [card]Sire of Insanity[/card], I basically lose. Instead, I was able to cast [card]Deadbridge Chant[/card] and with that and a draw step over the course of three turns, I feel like I am a big favorite to beat a 6/4 and no hand.
I lost in the finals, but I felt like I had pretty bad hands in the final two games, plus my opponent’s list seemed well prepared for the Jund matchup with a good amount of creature removal. I had gotten paired vs. Junk Reanimator about four times during the day and won pretty easily each time, I believe the matchup is firmly in Jund’s favor. In any case, I loved the deck and I read an article detailing everyone who played the exact 75 and how we did:
1. Turtenwald 9-0-1
16. Jensen 8-2
31. Duke 7-3
38. Ravitz 7-3
70. Steele 6-4
37-12-1: an amazing 74.66%!
I had to show up at the tournament site at 8 a.m. to play out the Top 4 and finish both matches before 10 a.m. so I could meet up with my teammates Reid Duke and William Jensen for deckbuilding in the Team Sealed. We opened some nice decks, and my teammates cleverly gave me the best deck by far, with [card]Aetherling[/card], [card]Lavinia of the Tenth[/card], and [card]Archon of the Triumvirate[/card].
The team tournament was the highlight of the trip, and for more reasons than simply because we won.
We never really played any interesting rounds until the Top 4, where we played a team we had already beaten in the Swiss. I had a nice game on camera that went ridiculously long, and I made a sick comeback from 1 life for about ten turns, facing down a [card]Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts[/card] which I thwarted with [card]Agoraphobia[/card]. I think my opponent made a crucial mistake this game with his [card]Trostani’s Judgment[/card] while I was at 2 life, he cast it to remove my [card]Haazda Snare Squad[/card] and alpha strike leaving me to make some bad blocks to go to 1 life and chump block, leaving me able to find a way to stabilize past that point thanks to a [card]Security Blockade[/card].
The fact of the matter is, if he just attacks with everyone, I would unknowingly block his [card]Lotleth Troll[/card] with my ¼ and put my blockers in front of all his other creatures. With [card]Trostani’s Judgement[/card] he could remove the blocker and trample over for the final points. I think if my opponent had just taken the time to look at the board from my perspective, he would have realized I was in such a bad position that my blocks were obvious. Besides that play, I think he played the game quite well. I turned up the pressure once I knew my opponent had nothing, with multiple [card]Knightly Valor[/card]s and a [card]Holy Mantle[/card] to end the game on the final turn. This was an on-camera feature match and I got a ton of positive responses from Twitter after I had won, people really thought it was a great game and so did I.
The finals were interesting. We were paired vs. Frank Skarren, Joe Demestrio, and Alec Nezin and we started out the draft 0-3. I made a bad mistake vs. Alec involving a [card]Fall of the Gavel[/card], and had a really poor draw for my aggressive deck in the second game. We really felt awful to have crushed the tournament so hard only to get embarrassed at the very end. But we managed a 3-0 in the second round to get our confidence back up, and a 2-1 to close it out.
My favorite moment of the weekend was game 3 of match 3, Huey against Joe. It was an intensely close game that came down to the wire, we controlled an unleashed [card]Splatter Thug[/card] and a [card]Feral Animist[/card] while Joe used his turn to cast a leashed [card]Rakdos Drake[/card]. We topdecked a [card]Hands of Binding[/card] with UURG lands in play while also holding a [card]Syncopate[/card], we slammed Hands on the [card]Rakdos Drake[/card] ciphering onto [card]Splatter Thug[/card], put Joe to 8, then he drew and passed.
We passed to Joe and he cast [card]Eyes in the Skies[/card], and we were put to a tough decision. We knew Joe had an [card]Angelic Skirmisher[/card] which we almost certainly couldn’t beat, but we also knew our hand was awful except for a [card]Massive Raid[/card] that we couldn’t cast, and allowing Joe to block and kill our Animist would be brutal. Also, Joe had missed at least one land drop so he needed to have the Skirmisher in hand AND topdeck a land for casting the [card]Syncopate[/card] to be wrong. We countered [card]Eyes in the Skies[/card], put Joe to 3, and passed.
He topdecked the land, and slammed the Skirmisher, we sat silent and waited to see what Huey drew. Knowing that we had [card]Massive Raid[/card] meant that simply a Mountain was a great draw step, because at 3 life Joe would be forced to block our [card]Splatter Thug[/card], and we could kill the Skirmisher before lifelink. Huey peeled the card slowly, eventually revealing not the Mountain we wished it was, but a [card]Pursuit of Flight[/card].
He looked at the card, looked at us, and said, “WOW… that was a good draw.” I looked at the board, thought for a second and said “well that was gas.” We thought about what to do with it before enchanting the [card]Splatter Thug[/card], and Huey looked at me and said, “just the Thug right?” I thought to myself “of course,” but Reid stopped us and said to attack with the [card]Feral Animist[/card] as well. We declared combat, the Skirmisher gained lifelink, we sent both creatures into combat and were dead silent as we waited for their blocks. They thought out loud trying to figure out what ‘trick’ we had before deciding the Skirmisher was too valuable to just chump away, and assuming we had nothing they would lifelink up to 7 and stabilize at 2. They blocked the [card]Feral Animist[/card] and Huey simply pointed to his [card]Splatter Thug[/card] and said “first strike?” They were dead. We won.
It was a great game to end the tournament and it’s been a while since I’ve finished exactly 1st place in any event. I thought my teammates played incredible Magic all day, and I truly believe that if I had played with any other two people on the planet we wouldn’t have won. I woke up at 8 a.m. to play the final round of the Standard Open and the tournament didn’t finish until 2 a.m. I played 18 consecutive hours of high-level Magic, and I loved every minute of it.
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