So, we’ve been drafting for the last two months at Montag’s. Frankly, nine weeks in a row is a bit much. It’s not that I don’t like drafting, it’s just that I like Standard a bit better and I haven’t gotten a chance to play Standard with Rise yet.
I’ve been out of town some this week and I really haven’t had time to brew or playtest. However, I have had a deck in mind for a long time. Right after Eldrazi Conscription was spoiled, at FNM I bought a playset of Sovereigns of Lost Alara for $2. I hadn’t right away figured out the appropriate full build, but of course soon thereafter Mythic Conscription hit the scene. The numbers from Nationals Qualifiers and PTQs have made it clear that this deck is the real deal, so that’s what I ran. Here’s the build I went with:
Pretty standard, except for the Admonition Angel, which was my tech for the mirror. Well, maybe the Linvala isn’t that standard, either, but it’s great in the mirror (shuts down all the mana dudes) and is terrific against Naya… in theory, anyway. I ran Bant Charms over Pridemages because I like them as removal in both the mirror and against Jund.
Round 1: Kris, playing UWb Control
Kris is a Montag’s regular and a really nice guy; I always feel bad when I beat him. Game 1 was very quick, I hit with a buff Knight of the Reliquary for 9 on turn 5, which he then killed on his turn, but on turn 6 I got Sovereigns and hit him with a Bird of Paradise for 11. Game 2 was a little more drawn out; he managed to kill a few guys and got a Bloodwitch on the board after I had hit him with a Colonnade, but I got a Sovereign out and smacked him again with a very, very large Birds of Paradise, and he scooped.
1-0 matches, 2-0 games
Round 2: Austin, playing Jund
I had never seen Austin at Montag’s before, but it was clear to me early on that he’s a solid player, and he opened Game 1 with a Savage Lands so I knew right away what I was in for. I managed to win on the back of an early Dauntless followed by a pretty buff Knight (I have to say KotR makes getting Blightning’d with land in your hand not so bad). Game 2 he drew like a zillion removal spells. The best I did was an early Firewalker, but he died to Consuming Vapors, which put me off my next turn as well. I did manage to Bant Charm a Vengevine, but he had too much removal and too many Bloodbraids. Game 3 I got early mana dudes and then a Knight and a Firewalker. The Knight only got in once before eating a Terminate but the Firewalker managed to get in for something like 10 total before eating a Doom Blade. I did at one point have a Sovereign in hand this game (finally), but it died from my hand to a Blightning. He had a Thrinax and a BBE on the board but I managed to finish him off with a Lotus Cobra and a Colonnade; the Cobra got through courtesy of a Sejiri Steppe. I did not play a single Sovereign the entire match—beating Jund the hard way feels pretty good!
2-0 matches, 4-1 games
Round 3: Joe, playing Jund
Joe is one of the strongest players at the store. I usually manage to make a match out of it, but mostly don’t win. Game 1 went well, though, I managed a Sovereign with him at 19, blasting him down to 5. He killed the Conscripted dude, but it still wasn’t enough; he drew mostly land. Game 2 was the reverse. I got stuck on two land (both Forests) and he eventually killed my mana dudes with a Jund Charm, and that was it. Game 3 I can’t say I remember all that well, other than that I won it. I had him down to 7 before I hit a Sovereign—I probably would have won without it, but it was the deal-sealer.
3-0 matches, 6-2 games
Round 4: Chris, playing UWr Control aka Super Pals
Well, it was kind of Super Pals; he wasn’t running any Elspeths. Game 1 I got the god draw: two mana dudes, three land, Baneslayer, and Sovereigns. Turn 3 Baneslayer, turn 4 Sovereigns. He had a Path for the Baneslayer, but he was stuck on two Plains so I smashed him next turn with a Bird for 11 and he scooped. Game 2 was a lot more interesting. I had a fetch land and mana dork on the first turn and was ready for a Knight on the third turn, but on his second turn he cast a Meddling Mage, naming Knight. I drew another Knight and had no other play, so I O Ring’d his Mage. He O Ring’d my O’Ring, naming Knight again. I drew a Gideon, cast it, and killed his Mage. He cast Ajani and I came back with, of course, a pair of Knights. He tried to Gideon my Gideon but I had a Negate. Gideon and the Knights got in one smash for 12, bringing him down to 7, but met Day. I got an O Ring for Ajani and hit him down to 1 with Gideon and put down a Hierarch. He cast a Wall of Omens, which drew him an Ajani, which he also cast. He could keep Gideon tapped, but not both Gideon and the Hierarch. Since I had a Sovereign in hand, that was game.
4-0 matches, 8-2 games
Round 5: ? (forgot, sorry) playing Jund
I was the only undefeated, so I had no incentive to play, and he was 3-1 with good tiebreaks and a draw with me would only help those, so we drew. We played a couple for fun without sideboarding, and I rolled him both times off Sovereigns. Game 2 was actually a Sovereign on an attacking Gideon, and I had two Hierarchs out, so Gideon came in as a 19/19 trampler. Hot.
4-0-1 matches, 8-2 games
Quarterfinals: Eddie, playing a UGR homebrew
Eddie was very cool, marveling at his ability to make the top 8 with a deck featuring main deck Pelakka Wurm. He won the die roll so I was on the draw. I got an early Hierarch and a Cobra. The Cobra got in for 3 and I cast a fourth-turn Baneslayer. He played a land and had the answer, a Mind Control. However, I had the answer to that in a Jace, bouncing the power lady back to my hand. From there I started Fatesealing him, bounced a couple chumps later, and ran through. Game 2 I got early fetches into a 4/4 Knight, then Jace again and a 5/5 Knight off an exalted, then Sovereigns for the win.
5-0-1 matches, 10-2 games
Semifinals: Matt, playing Vengevine Naya
Matt is an outgoing kid and a pretty good player, though he can venture into “arrogant punk” territory at times, especially when drafting. I knew going in that this wast a great matchup because he ran main deck Sparkmages, and of course the Mystic equipment package. He had both the Sparkmage and a Collar in his opening hand Game 1 and I had to go down to 6 cards. I had a Cobra and a Hierarch down and was bouncing the Sparkmage with Jace and then another Jace. He did keep re-casting the Sparkmage and I kept drawing Hierarchs and Cobras and Birds, casting them slightly faster than he could kill them, and actually beat him down to 4 with exalted Cobras. Eventually, though, the second Jace ran out and the Sparkmage got Collared up and I just could not get through a Vengevine and Bloodbraid. In wen the Linvalas and the Bant Charms. He got an early Pridemage, but I got an early Linvala, which also prevented any Sparkmage shenanigans. We traded blows for a while, me getting in mostly with Linvala. Unfortunately, I once again drew mostly little dorks and land, with no sign of a Baneslayer or Sovereigns, and while I got him down to 4, he overwhelmed me with Vengevines and Bloodbraids. I’m sure if I could have produced a Sovereign early in the first game or anytime in the second, I could have won, but it wasn’t meant to be.
So, at the end of the night, 5-1-1 matches, 10-4 games.
The good news is that my buddy Jason, also playing Mythic Conscription, won in the finals. Jason owed me some money and since there wasn’t anything he wanted from the store, paid me off with his credit winnings, so I ended up one Elspeth at the end of the night, which is pretty good.
So, my thoughts on the deck… overall I like it a lot. It’s pretty resilient and just flat-out wins games out of nowhere. I think I’d like to work in a couple of Finest Hours, though, so the deck can win a little earlier without relying on a creature. I wasn’t all that impressed with the Dauntless Escorts, so I might move those to the sideboard and just bring them in against decks I know are running Day. Jason’s versions doesn’t run Gideon but does run 2 each of Rafiq and Finest Hour, and that worked out well for him. He also runs a different board, with both Pridemages and Bant Charms, along with Emerge Unscathed. So I might tinker a little and replace the 3 Escorts with 1 more Rafiq and 2 Finest Hour,
On the other hand I might use my new Elspeth (I’m up to three now) to build Super Pals, even though I’m still short one Gideon. I’ll be traveling again next week so not much time to brew and test…