I had missed FNM the previous week for a “date night” with my wife, and the week before that I had one of the worst MTG nights ever—lost games to getting stuck on 2 land when running 28 land Valakut. Just not my night.
So this week I wanted to take a deck I knew was solid, and so I went with RUG, which has certainly been doing well lately. Here was my build:
UGr Ramp Control
It seems trendy right now to run Ruinblasters in the main but I wasn’t so sure and wanted to run the Volition Reins and the Garruk instead. Garruk was awesome—there is no way I would cut him—but the Reins was almost never what I wanted to see. I would cut that and the one in the board if I were to play this again.
Turnout at Montag’s wasn’t very good, so only four rounds cutting to top 4.
Round 1: Mike, playing UB Control
I’d not seen Mike at the shop before so I had no idea what to expect. Game 1 he had only one Island and three Swamps, and I had ramped a little and used Reins on his lone Island, and that quickly ended that game. Game 2 was equally dumb the other way. I had a lot of UU spells in my hand but could not find a second Island for the life of me. He got an early Creeping Tar Pit that went all the way. This is partly my fault as I had sided out most of my Bolts and failed to side in the Ruinblasters. I fixed that and we went to game 3. Game 3 I drew out counters with a Ruinblaster and something else, then stuck Garruk, made a token, and the next turn stuck a Frost Titan. We played counter war after that, but he never stopped my pair of dudes.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games
Round 2: Jason, playing BG Infect
I had been rounded down, so I really had to win this one. Game 1 was pretty bad. He got T1 BoP, turn 2 Plague Stinger, turn 3 Vines of Vastwood (kicked) and I had five poison counters. I never managed to fully stabilize after that because I never drew an answer to the Stinger. Game 2 I had early removal, then ramped into a Frost Titan, then the second Frost Titan, which locked him down completely. Game 3 I got the Oracle/Jace/Cobra engine going and kicked out an Avenger that made 10 plant tokens, then pumped them to 4/5. I attacked for something like 58 total.
2-0 matches, 4-2 games
Round 3: Marvin, playing UB Control
Game 1 we went back and forth a little, countered a few of each other’s things, killed a couple things on each side, but I managed to stick an Avenger and that sealed it. Game 2 I mulliganed down to 5 (two one-land openers) and had trouble getting double green. He hit me with Memoricide for Avenger (I had one in my hand at the time) and I just could not get there when he dropped a Jwar Isle Sphinx. Game 3 he got stuck on two land, but leaked my turn 3 Ruinblaster and then my turn 4 Jace and my turn 5 play, whatever that was. Turn 6 I did stick a Jace, then an Oracle, and that was it.
3-0 matches, 6-3 games
Round 4: Paul, playing RDW
We ID’d since we were guaranteed to be in.
3-0-1 matches, 6-3 games
Semifinals: Carlos, playing UG
Carlos and I have a tendency to alternate who wins, and he won last time, so I felt like I had the upper hand. Game 1 I managed both Garruk and Jace and got an Avenger first, but had to tap out for it, and then he cast… a kicked Rite of Replication. OK, well, then. Game 2 I again got Garruk and Jace, and then I got an Avenger. He came back with a Ratchet Bomb and killed my Beast token and all my plants. I bounced my Avenger with Jace, then re-played it for a new suite of plant tokens, and used Garruk to untap for a counter. He tried something, I countered, he played Jace to kill mine, but I had many plants and Garruk’s ultimate, so that was mine. Game 3 was all about Spell Pierce. On my turn 3 i played a fetch, but didn’t crack it. He went for a Cultivate and I Spell Pierced it. I kept drawing counters, he kept drawing and playing land. Eventually I went up to seven land with a Frost Titan and a Pierce in hand. Carlos played something (I don’t remember what) that I countered, then on my turn I tapped six for the Titan, he countered, and I Pierced his counter. I just held counters in my hand and let the Titan go all the way.
4-0-1 matches, 8-4 games
Finals: Travis, playing Elves
Travis is a Montag’s regular and a cool guy. We decided to split prizes and play for points. He won the roll and got the god draw and just threw a zillion little dudes onto the table. He had turn 1 Llanowar Elf, turn 2 Treespeaker, level, turn 3 Garruk, untap 2, play more Elves, turn 4 Genesis Wave for like three more guys including an archdruid. Yeah. I got what would normally have been considered a good draw: turn 2 Cobra, turn 3 Jace, turn 4 Frost Titan—and I wasn’t even in this game. Yikes. Game 2 I got a turn 2 Explore and then was able to Pyroclasm away two guys on his side, then dropped a Cobra, then Jace, then an Oracle, and that was too much as my deck just spewed a pile of land onto the table and then an Avenger. Game 3 he kept a 1-lander—not usually all that dangerous for Elves—that also had the green Leyline in it. But he had no 1-drop. I ramped into a turn 3 Jace off a Cobra and fatesealed him. My next two turns were Garruk and an Oracle, fatesealing him both times, successfully keeping him off either a second land or a 1-drop, and he scooped.
5-0-1 matches, 10-5 games
The prize pool wasn’t very big because of the low turnout, but I got a Venser and a couple other cards for my trouble, so all in all, a good night. Also nice to not drop a match, of course. After it was over, a few of us stayed and played a couple games of Ascension, which was the first time I had played it. Fun game!
Odd night in that I never lost a match, but all my matches were 2-1. I think this is because the deck has such sensitive mana requirements—you really want both double Blue and double Green available early. It’s not that hard to get with this deck, but when you don’t it’s crippling. Seems like I had trouble with this about once every three games, hence all the 2-1 outcomes. RUG is obviously a strong deck. The Jace/Oracle synergy is, of course, crazy good and if there’s a Cobra in play it’s silly. The Red is almost incidental and I can see why people have been successful using Black in its place. The best part of the Red is Pyroclasm from the sideboard, which is really good against things like Elves and WW. (I have an Ice Age Pyroclasm and I got a lot of comments from bystanders about how cool that is.) The deck is also a little soft to fliers overall since you can never block them, not even chump blocking, so that puts a lot of pressure on to bounce them with Jace or make them the lockdown target for Frost Titan.
Not sure what to play next time. Right now I’m leaning toward Shearer’s WGU Shaman deck, because that looks like fun. That’s actually why I picked up a Venser. I love the idea of Gideon-Sunblast Angel-Venser, even if that combo comes from the sideboard and even if it’s not really all that great, it just seems fun.