I’ve top 8’d a lot of Game Days—that’s not a brag, we’re talking about Game Day here, not a big event—but I have only one playmat to show for it, which is the Theros one. As usual, I have played literally zero standard since Born of the Gods came out, because my LGS does draft at FNM for the first month after a new set comes out.
So I was looking to repeat, and the early meta didn’t seem all that much affected by Born of the Gods, with the exception of the RG “Monsters” deck. I had most of the cards for it (had to buy some Coursers and Xenagods) and I took it with me to FNM on Friday to play it between rounds, and I have to say I wasn’t all that impressed. However, I had a really busy Saturday so I didn’t really have time to think much about or build an alternative from scratch, so I decided that the way to make it both better and more interesting was to go the Jund route. Here’s what I sleeved up:
A couple comments. When I did play it on Friday, I was really impressed with Ghor-Clan Rampager and pretty underwhelmed with Polukranos. Most of the Jund lists seem to be cutting Ghor-Clan straight up for Reaper, but I wanted to leave in some Rampagers, so I cut a Stormbreath and a Domri, in part because I only own three of those, and also because it’s rare for me to load up on four of any Planeswalker that I’m actually trying to ultimate, because I hate having them stranded in my hand. So that’s how I got to this list.
Round 1: Mac playing UW Control
Mac apparently did not get the memo that all the cool control players have switched to Esper because of the Mistcutters and Stormbreaths in exactly this deck. Yay. Game 1 didn’t help, either, since he had no Detention Spheres in his opening hand. Why is that bad? Because I won the die roll and went turn 2 Domri, turn 3 Xenagos. So, on to game 2. I sided in 12 cards—everything except the Ultimate Prices—and cut the Reapers, Polukranoses, Mortars, Oozes, and 1 Courser. In game 2 I got a Domri again, lost a Miscutter to a Celestial Flare (derp on my part), and did manage to ultimate Domri… and then never drew a single creature that I could make active. All lands, Decays, Charms, and both forms of Xenagos. Meanwhile, he stuck an Ætherling and killed me in a couple swings. Game 3 I managed a Mistcutter for 4 on turn 4, then a Xenagod on turn 5, plus had a Mystic to play around Flare, and that got there.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games
Round 2: Melody, playing BR Minotaurs
This should have been a relatively easy match, and it was—in the wrong direction. It turns out that if you draw no removal in game 1 (mostly Coursers and land) and almost no creatures at all in game 2, you just lose. Very disappointing.
1-1 matches, 2-3 games
Round 3: ID
So, I got paired against my 9-year-old son, and since we were doing 4 rounds cut to top 8, another loss would knock one of us out, so we ID’d, knowing we’d both have to win our next round to make the cut.
1-1-1 matches, 2-3 games
Round 4: Jorge, playing Rakdos Aggro
I like this deck and might build something like it this rotation. Fortunately for me, he wasn’t playing Herald in it, at least not that I saw. I made a mana management error in game 1 and got a little too far behind, and he killed me. Game 2 I had turn 2 Carytid and turn 3 Carytid, which is pretty much wall of hexproof until he gets up to Exava or a deathtouch guy, but by the time he got there I had a Reaper going and drew just enough removal to push through. Game 3 I also got an early Carytid to hold back his early Cackler, had removal for his Thrill-Kill Assassin, got a Xenagos, generator of blockers. He did get a Mogis down, which started costing me life, but I got a Courser down, and while he had Exava, a Cackler, and a Xathrid Necromancer on the board with him at 14 life. He got in with Exava, and I dropped to 11. EOT I cast Golgari Charm to kill his Cackler (yes, it was not unleashed), untapped, cast Ultimate Price to kill the Necromancer, then swung with a Courser and a Reaper, with two Rampagers in hand to swing for exactly 14. Whew.
2-1-1 matches, 4-4 games
Not exactly an auspicious record, but it was good enough for me to squeak in to the top 8.
Quarterfinals: Mac, playing UW Control
Yep, a rematch. i don’t really remember Game 1 much other than that I had an early Courser and played a lot of shocklands, so my life total kept going up and down a little bit, but not that much. I know the first 9 point of damage I did to him was a Mystic and a Courser. I think I stuck a Xenagod to carry it through. Same 12 cards in from the sideboard. Game 2 I kept a slightly slow hand, did not draw out of it, and failed to play around a Fated Retribution that took out two mana dorks, a Xenagos, a Satyr token, and something else (a Courser, maybe?), and did not come back. Game 3 I got another kind of mediocre draw and had no real action until a turn 4 Cutter for 4 off a mana dork, which he took out with a Verdict. I followed with a 3-power Cutter that got in a few hits, though he Rev’d for 3 so he was at 10 and dropped an Archangel of Thune. I Dreadbored that, hit him down to 7 with the Cutter. He shocked himself down to 5 (can’t remember why) and put out another Archangel. I came back with a Stormbreath, putting him down to 1. He Rev’d for 7 to look for an out, but I had two more Dragons in my hand, and the outs to that were not there.
3-1-1 matches, 6-5 games
Semifinals: Tim, playing RG Monsters
Ahh, so the non-Jund version. I felt I was favored here, and it pretty much played out that way. I got a turn 3 Reaper, which he Mortared. Uhh, OK. He then realized the mistake, but it was too late. He set up to double-block the Reaper with a Ghor-Clan and a Mystic, but I had a Ghor-Clan of my own, and he scooped to Xenagod. Game 2 he just had a much better draw than me, one of those games where his turn 2 Courser always flipped land onto the field and every draw for him was gas, and I just did not draw enough action to keep up. Turn 5 Ruric Thar from him was actually pretty devastating. Game 3 I got another early Reaper, then a Xenagod, then a Stormbreath (which did eat a Mortars), but had already done 8, then two Mystics to turn on Xenagod, and that was it.
4-1-1 matches, 8-6 games
Finals: Festus, playing RDW
Yay, on the doorstep of getting a second playmat! I’ve played Festus a lot in the last few months, and lately I’ve mostly had the upper hand. Well, this time it went the other way. He won the die roll, and my opening hand was three land, two Mystics, a Domri, and a Xenagod. Not exactly going to get there against RDW. My six wasn’t great, but was a little better, but it didn’t matter much, as he had Cackler into Burning-Tree into Burning-Tree into Fanatic for 7, and I was drawing card that were just too slow. Game 2 I managed to make a game out of with a turn 2 Carytid and a Decay for his Burning-Tree, but I had to use a Mortars on his Phoenix because I had nothing in the air, though I did follow with Xenagos to generate ground blockers and did take out his Firefist Striker with a Golgari Charm, I just couldn’t quite keep up with the damage and of course he drew a Lightning Strike to regrow the Phoenix, and I did not have another answer.
4-2-1 matches, 8-8 games
Well, that’s a pretty bad game win percentage there, but the only match I really felt like I couldn’t win was the final; I think the loss in Round 2 was just one of those things.
Fun deck. I really like it better with the black.