Winning with BEES

Last Saturday, I took down a local PPTQ with the BEES. The deck felt great, and both Roast and Dragonlord Atarka overperformed. You haven’t lived until you’ve Roasted your own Hornet Nest then immediately used those fresh tokens to Chord up something sweet.

Here’s my updated list:


For the first time in my life, I’m rocking 61 cards. Between having the correct Chord targets and the various engine and inevitability cards, I was happier running 61 than cutting a key piece of the puzzle.

After trying it out, Thunderbreak Regent doesn’t fit. While we have some good threats, they’re mostly there as Chord targets to help finish off an opponent after we’ve already dominated the board. I played Thunderbreak in a few events, and it was always the worst card. Ashcloud Phoenix looks similar, but when it shines it wins games almost singlehandedly. Because Phoenix is good against removal, it’s a nice complement to Polukranos as a Chord-able 4-drop.

The Minister of Pain gets a lot of odd looks, and it’s here as a Chord target for the Hordeling Outburst decks to stop them from going wide of Hornet Nest shenanigans. Also, people are already playing Secure the Wastes, which is a powerful card and sometimes needs to be answered at instant speed. Some have suggested Doomwake Giant in this slot, but Chording for 5 is much harder against an aggressive Stoke the Flames deck.

The event went smoothly. In the Swiss I beat UW Heroic, Sultai Control, and Gw Devotion while losing a close round to my roommate Ben Rasmussen with RUG aggro. While I didn’t like losing, it was cool to see Sarkhan Unbroken perform. The Dragons don’t have haste or anything, but staying back to defend Sarkhan isn’t a bad thing. The overall effect reminds me of a cross between Broodmate Dragon and Sarkhan the Mad.

In the quarters I beat an Abzan Aggro player by playing around Bile Blight, which involves mostly being patient and holding up Setessan Tactics when you can. “Sorry, your spell fizzles. Also, murder your board.”

After the match, he flashed me a Virulent Plague from his sideboard that would’ve been backbreaking if he’d ever drawn it. Not only does it shut off the Hornet tokens, but also Xenagos Satyrs as well. I’ve played in a few dailys since and have yet to get Plagued, but the thought haunts my dreams.

I faced Ben again in the semifinals, and we had some more close games before he stumbled in game three.

In the finals, I faced my other roommate, Dan Cecchetti. You might know Dan because he recently he took down Grand Prix Miami with Gw Devotion.

He was kind enough to share an updated list.

Gw Devotion, by Dan Cecchetti

We talked for a bit after the event, and I got his notes:

  • Polukranos is a necessary card in the mirror, but you have time to find it. It’s a must-kill for the Siege Rhino decks, but they have a ton of ways of killing it. 3 or 4 is fine.
  • Den Protector continues to impress. Having more ways to trigger Raptor is nice, and lots of decks are trying to kill Mastery and such. Being able to recur it with Temur Sabertooth is interesting.
  • Raptor is solid—it could go up to three. It’s nice to be able to trigger Mastery repeatedly, even in matches where the 3/3 body is irrelevant.
  • Dromoka’s Command is the most high-variance card in the deck—against control it’s only +1/+1 but the control matchups are pretty good already, you can probably stand the dead card. You maybe don’t need Disenchant creatures since Den Protector can get back Command.
  • While the miser’s Reclamation Sage or Ainok Survivalist isn’t completely necessary in the main, repeated Disenchants are great against the mirror and Whip decks, and between all of the manifesting, the deck is good at finding high-impact 1-ofs.
  • Multiple Masterys look dead/redundant on paper, but sometimes multiple life gain triggers is how you “go bigger” than the opposing deck. If gaining 20 life a turn isn’t good enough, gaining 40 might be.

As we sat down and shuffled up, the judge offered us a chance to split up the prizes differently. We figured that, since second place was basically nothing by comparison, we should just winner-take-all and make it actually nothing.

Our game one was intense. He curved Courser into a Whisperwood Elemental, and I curved Xenagos into a turn-four Dragonlord Atarka. At this point, I could only kill one of his two x/4s, and I tanked on which was more important. On the one hand, Whisperwood provides a steady stream of gas. On the other, Courser is his best chance to find a fast Nykthos. If he’s holding a redundant copy of the one I kill I’d rather kill Whisperwood because it costs more.

In the end I sided with killing the more expensive spell, but in hindsight a fast Nykthos was probably his best chance at racing the Atarka and I regretted not killing the Courser.

Over the next few turns, I ultimate’d Xenagos for a few Hornet Nests and some lands while Dan chained Nykthos into double Mastery, shooting up to 20 life.

On my turn I ripped Chord of Calling, looking down at the board.

“I wonder if this does something,” I said.

Dan smiled, figuring he had the game locked up. I started mathing. It turned out that I had exactly enough resources to Chord for Stormbreath Dragon, monstrous it (he had three cards in hand), and attack for exactsies alongside two Hornet tokens.

Game two Dan failed to find a Nykthos, and I made some Hornets and killed him.

We did the usual post-mortem on the match, breaking down the decisions and key moments. Dan was an excellent sport, and even handed me the box of boosters that he’d split away. I repaid his classiness by gleefully showering in said packs, spraying them in the air in my best Scrooge McDuck impression.

Then Dan gave me a ride home.


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