BUG Midrange into FNM Top 8

This report is not because I did really great or anything, but because the deck is kind of interesting. After winning Game Day, I’ve actually been on a pretty bad run, missing cuts on breakers or just having horrible nights. One of the days I missed on breakers I played the Bg Devotion deck, which I liked a lot and went 2-0 vs. Monoblack Devotion. Abrupt Decay and Putrefy are really good in that matchup.

Fall is pretty busy for me so I have almost no time to think about MTG until right up to the tournament and this Friday was no different. I decided I wanted to play something different and saw Chapin’s BUG Midrange deck listing and thought it looked like fun and I had all the cards, so I decided to give it a shot. I probably should have played it first, though.

I made a couple small changes from Chapin’s list and played this:

[deck title=BUG Midrange]
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Desecration Demon
3 Reaper of the Wilds
2 Prophet of Kruphix
2 Prime Speaker Zegana
3 Thoughtseize
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Golgari Charm
2 Dissolve
2 Far // Away
3 Hero’s Downfall
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Breeding Pool
3 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
2 Swamp
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Watery Grave
1 Duress
2 Mistcutter Hydra
1 Thoughtseize
2 Golgari Charm
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Gaze of Granite
1 Whip of Erebos
2 Jace, Memory Adept
1 Primeval Bounty

In the main deck I just changed some numbers: I went down to 3 Reapers to run a third Desecration Demon. I cut a Far // Away for a second Abrupt Decay. In the sideboard I changed a few cards: 2 Mistcutter Hydras in place of the the 2 Ætherlings, and 1 Ratchet Bomb in place of the fourth Scavenging Ooze. Those all made sense to me at the time.

Round 1: Festus, playing RDW
Festus is a regular who I’ve played a lot lately, and I’ve been on a bit of winning streak against him, four or five in a row, I think. I had no idea what he was playing, but he won the roll and lead off with a Rakdos Cackler. I had a Golgari Charm in my opener so I though this might go OK, and turn 2 he nicely laid down a pair of Firedrinkers, so I was able to 2-for-1 him with the Charm. I got a Caryatid out to block, put down an Ooze, then got down Jace and a Demon, and he scooped. Game 2 was just a game of he would play something and hit me, then I’d kill it afterwards. The key play was on turn 5 he had a Fanatic out and cast a second one, and I responded with Away and he went to put the first Fanatic in the graveyard, then stopped and tapped his Mountain to activate his tapped Mutavault and sac that instead of the first Fanatic. Dang, I was hoping he’d miss that. He swung with the one Fanatic and dropped me to 4. They both died on the next turn to double Golgari Charm, but without more life gain in the deck, this was a losing race for me, as we both had empty boards. I knew I was in trouble, and he drew out of it first and burned me out. Game 3 I had two Caryatids in my opener, but only two land and no source of green. I kept, which was a huge mistake—I didn’t draw the third land until like turn 5, and it was a shock, so I just died quickly. Should have mulliganed.
0-1-1, 1-2 games

Round 2: Ryan, playing UW Control
Ryan is another regular who I’ve played many times, though not so much recently. Game 1 I just punted, as I had turn 2 Caryatid and could have cast turn 3 Reaper, but I held back to leave Dissolve open, and for the life of me I can’t remember why. The whole game played out badly after that, and everything useful I generated died to Verdicts, me never with a Charm in hand. There were some funny plays in the match, at least. He had both Jace and Elspeth at one point and I had a Demon, which he tapped by sacrificing a Soldier token. He had tapped out to cast Elspeth, so I got to cast an enormous Prime Speaker, but of course they both died to Elspeth’s -3. Unfortunately most of the cards I drew were just lands. Sideboarding was a bit of a challenge, as I wasn’t completely sure what to bring in and what to take out. Game 2 Ryan had a bit of a punt to even things up. He had a Jace, Memory Adept of mine under a Sphere, and after getting out a pair of Prophets, generate a Jace, Architect, and cashed him in to find a Golgari Charm. Ryan then put a Sphere on the two Prophets, then tapped out to activate both his Mutavaults, and swung. I Charmed the Sphere on the two Prophets, blocked both the lands, and set him back to four lands. Seemed good. He did draw into a Verdict, though, and this went back and forth many times. I finally drew my second Memory Adept, though, and milled him out. We had very little time to finish G3 (both of us again made sideboard adjustments) and did not, which was a shame, as I had a Turn 1 Duress followed by multiple early Thoughseizes. I also had a turn 5 Memory Adept and we ended on turns with him on 6 cards in his library. Dang.
0-1-1 matches, 2-3-1 games

Round 3: Elliot, playing WBR Slivers
These games were just horrible beatings. His deck is capable of really fast draws, but he never got them here and I just had way too much time to set things up. I had Prophet going in one game and was flashing in Demons and Reapers, and in the other game I got the Prime Speaker with a Demon on the board hand refill again. He actually did get me down to 7 in the second game, but i was never really in serious danger.
1-1-1 matches, 4-3-1 games

Round 4: Rusty, playing Monowhite Devotion
This is not the Wb Devotion deck that’s been on TCG lately, but a mono-white deck with little guys and Heroic, but still with Heliod and the Spear and Nykthos. Game 1 I got a couple 2-for-1s with removal on enchanted creatures, and once again got Prime Speaker with a Demon on board. Game 2 he got turn 3 Spear and kind of ran me over. I had a Gaze in hand but never hit the sixth land to wipe his board. Game 3 I kept him off me enough early to make Gaze for 3 be a one-sided Wrath, got Demon and Prime Speaker and put it away.
2-1-1 matches, 5-4-1 games

I made the top 8 on breakers, just barely.

Quarterfinals: Jeremy, playing Monoblack Devotion
I had played Jeremy on Game Day and the week after and was 2-0 against him, so he owed me. Game 1 was a very close back and forth affair he won off a desperate pay 2 life from Erebos to draw a card and pull Ultimate Price when I had a Demon on board with him at 6. He then drew a Gray Merchant to follow up, activating Erebos as well and hitting me down to 2. Grr. I hadn’t thought very hard about what to sideboard for this matchup and I’m not sure I did it right. However, Game 2 was pretty much smooth sailing, including an active Prophet for a couple turns (ate a Doom Blade) and a Far // Away that bounced a live Erebos and killed a 7/7 Demon. Game 3 didn’t go my way, though, as his turn 3 Specter hit a Thoughtseize on his first swing and I was just kid of behind the whole game, including him again top decking a removal spell when I had tapped out for Prime Speaker with a Reaper on the table. Ah, well.
2-2-1 matches, 6-6-1 games

I think that’s pretty much the textbook definition of a mediocre night. My son Simon made it to the finals (again, he’s been on a amazing roll lately), and while I was waiting for him, I played a bunch of games against an aggro Rw Devotion deck to get a better feel for how the deck plays in other matchups, a majority of which I lost. But the outcome is not really why I wrote this. Fundamentally, the deck is not completely straightforward to play; there are a lot of decisions, especially sideboarding, that I hadn’t thought about enough beforehand. This is what you get for building a rogue deck just before you leave for the event. I think with more practice with the deck and a tweaked sideboard, this could actually be a pretty decent deck.

So, let’s talk about it.

Comments on the Deck
First, it’s really interesting. It attacks from multiple different angles and is difficult to sideboard against, not just because it is rouge, but because of the diversity of threats. Main deck Golgari Charm seems like a great metagame call right now.

Basically, against heavily aggro decks, you have to draw early Caryatids or you just lose. The 0/3 hexproof mana wall is really great in those matchups. Early removal is really important, too. The sideboard seems OK against aggro, but is short a removal spell or two. Another Cure would be good, except Cure is so bad against everything else.

On the other hand, against mono-black, you also want another removal spell, and Cure would not be it. I wanted a Putrefy there. This was the only matchup that I brought in Whip and it didn’t seem that good, particularly with Erebos around. I’d have been much better off with a removal spell than with the Whip.

Ratchet Bomb in the sideboard felt like a mistake. I did bring it in a couple times and it never really seemed good. Primeval Bounty is also interesting, and while I brought it in against UW Control and against mono-black, I never got to cast it. Not sure how good that really is.

If I were to play this again, I’d definitely cut the Whip and the Ratchet Bomb, probably for a third Cure and a Putrefy, or maybe even for two Putrefys. I’d also consider cutting the Primeval Bounty for more hand kill, e.g. another Duress, or maybe even Vraska.

So, if you want to play something really interesting that’s off the beaten path, give this a whirl. I think with a few sideboard changes and better pre-tourney thought about what to sideboard when, and a little actual playtesting beforehand, this is decent, and a heck of a lot of fun to play.