Cook’s Kitchen – NELC (10/20/2012): 4th Place
On the way back from Providence the weekend before the NELC, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to play the next weekend at the NELC. I ran down the gauntlet of decks that I could possibly build, what I felt comfortable with, and what was good in the metagame. My experience with Maverick the month prior wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. I decided in the current format it’s probably better to have some interaction with all of the Show and Tell combos running rampant. This meant running some sort of black and or blue. I decided to do both.
What I ended up opting to run was a “Team America” or a BUG Delver list – whatever the kids are calling it these days. It was blue, black, and green cards that synergized to propel me into the semi-finals. The reason I chose to play BUG Delver was that the first event of the year for the new Jupiter season I ran RUG and won the event. (Which you can read about here.) I’ve already ran RUG and can’t again due to my new deck every month philosophy, but disregarding that silly rule, I still believe that black is currently a better splash color. Mostly because of this card:
Decay fixes a lot of the problems that RUG Delver has, such as Counterbalance, Knight of the Reliquary, Tarmogoyf, Choke, Detention Sphere, Umezawa’s Jiite, and other pesky permanents. The downside is that Decay costs two mana compared to Lightning Bolt, but it does have the benefit of being uncounterable. Which is actually highly relevant, not being able to be a Daze or a Spell Pierce target is pretty incredible. Because Decay is two mana, I decided that it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to run a pair of Ghastly Demise. The benefit of being a single mana means that you’re still able to do multiple things on turn two like a Ponder or a Delver of Secrets. Team America is a tempo deck and the last thing you want to do is lose the tempo. This deck doesn’t want to play an incredibly long game, the same could be said for RUG.
Last month’s Jupiter Games event was crowded with combo, Reanimator, OmniShow, and Storm combo. Meaning that RUG’s Forked Bolts and Thought Scours weren’t as valuable. While Thought Scour was still an option, the added value of black’s discard held a lot more value in my eyes. Being able to be proactive against the combo decks would force their hands into my soft counterspells as well as Force of Will at times. The discard spells were fantastic at creating tempo after a threat was on the table.
The last reason I chose black over red for my splash color is its ability to destroy Maverick. I’ve ran RUG in the past and I had a pretty tough Maverick match-up, but not anymore! The sideboard of this BUG deck destroys Maverick with two additional Ghastly Demise, two Dread of Night, and a Darkblast. I was on the fence about sideboarding in the Grafdigger’s Cage against Maverick and ultimately decided against it.
Onto the weekend, I left work slightly early and picked up Nick Patnode to go down to Jupiter for their “Super FNM” which had a $500 prize pool. Nick didn’t have a deck to play and decided to run the deck I ran in Providence – RUG Midrange. We made a few tweaks for his list, and then worked on my ZOMBIES list! I opted to run the red splash because I like its speed and reach more than I like the ability to Rancor a Lotleth Troll. Nick and I easily made our way through the field and into the top 8, I had a loss in the swiss against Jund midrange because my deck flooded out. Meanwhile, Nick went undefeated. In the top 8 I would have my opportunity to extract some revenge against Seneca Hobbler and his Thragtusks. Once again I would win game one and then flood out games two and three. Twenty-two lands was simply too many for Zombies, I know it’s what most lists are playing nowadays, but I’d like to cut at least one if not two. If I do decide to keep them perhaps they become Stensia Bloodhall. Nick would go on to split the finals with Dan Rae. Nick sideboarded out Desperate Ravings almost every round and continually explained to me his distaste for that card in this deck, he suggests that it becomes Borderland Ranger.
After the FNM had finished Sam Roukas and Greg Komar arrived to Jupiter, Greg was a little unsure on the deck he was going to play on Saturday. He laid out on the table this BUG deck that wasn’t sure if it was a control deck or tempo deck with a few cards that didn’t really interact too well with one another. I decided to help Greg out and ship him my list. My main deck was flawless but my sideboard needed some work. I originally had Deathmark over Ghastly Demise and a second Thoughtseize over Envelop, not big changes just a few small things. Greg tested the list against Sam and didn’t fare so well, but I knew my list was rock solid. After they tested for a bit, Sam, Greg, Nick, and myself all went to Applebee’s next door for some drinks and food. We had a pretty good time exchanging stories, talking, drinking, and eating. I can’t forget to mention all of the half price appetizers, seriously. We ate a ton of food for next to nothing, I spent more money on the pair of blue moons than my meal.
The next day had come and we set out for the Jupiter Games Event location. We get there as the doors open, do some trading, EDH a bit, and do my favorite thing about these Jupiter events – talk to everyone. Everyone that goes to Jupiter’s monthly NELC events are friends, it’s always a blast to see everyone.
We begin with the list!
Team America / BUG Delver
By Bryant Cook (10/20/2012)
Round One: Shawn King with Mono-Blue Tempo
Game One: Shawn normally plays some sort of MUD variant, but during our pregame chat he mentions that he’s taking a break like I am from Storm. This makes me a bit more comfortable with keeping my opening hand. The hand consists of three Nimble Mongoose, Ponder, Force of Will, Brainstorm and a Tropical Island. I begin the game with a Tropical Island into a Ponder. I find two more lands. Shawn plays a basic Island and also plays Ponder, I lay a fetchland on the table along with a Nimble Mongoose. Shawn puts another Island onto the battlefield, shortly after he plays a Jace’s Phantasm. I put another fetchland on the table and break them both – one is unfortunately a victim of Stifle. I lay another Nimble Mongoose and attack. Shawn doesn’t block then plays a Thought Scour targeting me. He untaps casts a Delver of Secrets and then attacks with his Phantasm. I draw a Brainstorm and cast it, Brainstorm finds two Abrupt Decay and another fetchland. I put Force of Will and Nimble Mongoose back, fetch, and Abrupt Decay his Jace’s Phantasm. At this point I attack for six, the rest of the game is Shawn trying to lay threats but the second Abrupt Decay is just too much. Shawn mentions he had a hand full of counterspells that couldn’t protect his threats in the traditional way a tempo deck plays.
Sideboarding: -3 Force of Will, +1 Darkblast, +2 Ghastly Demise (In hindsight, I should’ve sided in Thoughtseize over the fourth Force of Will)
Game Two: I keep a loose hand of Brainstorm, a pair of Wastelands, two Fetchlands, Ponder, and Ghastly Demise. My plan is to Brainstorm back Wasteland in response to a Thought Scour to remove dead cards in my deck from the game. This doesn’t happen, the first few turns of the game consists of cantrips on both sides. My Ponder finds Nimble Mongoose, Darkblast and Force of Will. As Shawn starts playing Delvers and Phantasms I Brainstorm, put two Wasteland on top of the deck and then Darkblast. During my draw step I dredge. Then kill his Delver on my turn, I play Mongoose. On Shawn’s turn he drops a Phyrexian Dreadnaught and has counterspell back-up for my Force of Will. I have two turns to draw a Abrupt Decay or Ghastly Demise (Shawn had been milling me with Vision Charms). I don’t draw anything but threats.
Game Three: The deck does what it’s supposed to do. I lead off in consecutive turns, Nimble Mongoose, Tarmogoyf, Delver of Secrets, and just overwhelm Shawn before he can really do anything to stablize. Shawn begins to mill me in hope that he can make his Phantasms large enough to block and kill things, Abrupt Decay bypasses his counter magic to clear the path for my now large creatures. Shawn in a last ditch effort plays a Dreadnaught, I however have a Spell Piece and two Daze to stop him.
Round Two: Kyle Zaffino with BUG Control
Game One: I open up with a couple of fetchlands, one of which finds a Stifle, I then play a Tarmogoyf. Kyle keeps attempting to kill my ‘Goyf with Snuff Outs but continues to find countermagic. His life total quickly diminishes in the early turns of the game. He plays his own Tarmogoyf hoping to slow the game down but Ghastly Demise clears the way. At this point Kyle is at five, plays a second Tarmogoyf, then on my draw step a Vendilion Clique. I Daze the Clique, then Abrupt Decay the ‘Goyf. I swing in for lethal.
Sideboarding: -2 Force of Will, +1 Darkblast, +1 Thoughtseize
Game Two: Kyle plays a turn one, Underground Sea, Sensei’s Diving Top. I open with a Thoughtseize taking Kyle’s Dark Confidant to stop any pressure he may have had. I leave him with Underground Sea, Wasteland, two Hymn to Tourach, and Vendilion Clique. He Wastelands me, I Waste him back, but then Kyle just sits there as I begin to play my threats. Tarmogoyf and Delver of Secrets come down. Kyle draws a Bayou and Hymn to Tourachs me, I Daze then continue to beat him down. Kyle plays a Go For the Throat which finds a Spell Pierce, then a Tarmogoyf that becomes Decayed. The pressure from the two creatures was too much for the control deck.
Round Three: Feature Match vs. Greg Komar with Team America/BUG Delver
Game One: Greg opens with a much stronger hand than I do with a pair of Delvers, I never have an opportunity to switch the tempo role in the match-up. Greg was always in charge during the game where I’m fighting to clench on. I die before I can get anything to stick.
Sideboarding: -4 Force of Will, -2 Thoughtseize, +2 Ghastly Demise, +1 Darkblast, +2 Surgical Extraction, +1 Life From the Loam
Game Two: it’s the exact opposite of the first game, I was the tempo role beating down with two Nimble Mongoose while I Abrupt Decay his blockers to clear the way.
Game Three: Greg leads off with his sideboard tech of Deathrite Shaman (I don’t like this card), I Wasteland his Tropical Island, then Surgical Extraction it. Greg Brainstorms using the Deathrite Shaman removing my Wasteland from the game, fetches an Underground Sea and plays a Delver of Secrets. I play my own off of an Underground Sea, Greg Wastelands me. Greg plays another Delver of Secrets and bashes me down before I can play either Tarmogoyf in my hand. When I do cast them, Greg is waiting with Ghastly Demise. I can’t recover or draw removal in time.
It’s funny though, Greg never once added green mana with Deathrite Shaman. I suppose this is what I get for lending my list out.
Round Four: Tariq White with UWb Landstill
Game One: I open the game with two Delver of Secrets and a Brainstorm to flip them. Tariq attempts to slow me down with Swords to Plowshares, but I’m waiting with Spell Pierce. Tariq attempts to play a Jace, the Mind Sculptor while I’m tapped out but runs into a Daze. Tariq casts Force of Will, I Force of Will back. I decided that keeping the tempo was too important and I didn’t want to waste a turn attacking Jace after he bounced an Aberration. On Tariq’s next turn a Supreme Verdict is cast. I draw a Wasteland and take him off of double white mana and then play a Nimble Mongoose and another Delver of Secrets. These two creatures were enough to finish him off.
Sideboarding: -3 Abrupt Decay, -2 Ghastly Demise, +1 Thoughtseize, +1 Life from the Loam, +3 Surgical Extraction
Game Two: Tariq starts out the game with a Relic of Progenitus and an Engineered Explosives on zero. I play a Ponder, and then Tariq plays a Standstill. I break the Standstill with a pair of Delver of Secrets. The game goes on with us trading counterspells over Tariq’s removal, mainly a couple Vindicates. The two small Delvers beat Tariq down to ten, when he gets a Jace to resolve but he has to tap out. Jace is activated to Brainstorm. I need my Delvers to flip, they do! But I decide to only turn one of them into Insectile Aberration, to kill the Jace, the other stays small. This way the Explosives on zero will only kill one of the Delvers. Exactly what I hoped would happen does, I’m down to one Delver and it flips on the next turn. Then dies to a Vindicate, I draw a Wasteland to take Tariq back down to three mana. I play a Nimble Mongoose and pass. Mongoose attacks over three turns to kill Tariq while he drew two Supreme Verdict and an Elspeth over those turns. Nice Wasteland.
Round Five: Steve Rice with BANT Aggro
Game One: I play a turn one Ponder, which finds a couple of fetchlands and a Delver of Secrets. Steve Wastelands my land, I fetch and play a Delver of Secrets. Steve has a second Wasteland. Delver flips and I put another land into play and Ponder again. I then attack Steve and pass. He plays a land and passes. I play a second land, attack, pass. Steve plays a land and Stoneforge Mystic for Umezawa’s Jitte, I Abrupt Decay targeting the Stoneforge Mystic. I draw a Thoughtseize, lay a land, and cast it. Look at Clique, Knight, land, Daze, and Jitte, I take the Clique and pass. Steve plays the land and Jitte, I Spell Pierce.
Sideboarding: -4 Force of Will, +2 Ghastly Demise, +1 Darkblast, +1 Thoughtseize
Game Two: I keep a double Wasteland hand but fall backwards as Steve opens up with 2 Noble Hierarchs, multiple lands and has an Elspeth while all I have is a Tropical. He quickly beats my face into the ground. I’m shocked that he tapped out for Elspeth when I had Tropical open, that play would have lost to Pierce or Daze. Luckily for him, I had neither.
Game Three: I Thoughtseize Steve early taking his only threat – a Vendilion Clique. But when I’m looking at his hand he has two Windswept Heath, Karakas, Submerge, and also a Swords to Plowshares, very frustrating. I cantrip over the next few turns and find a Nimble Mongoose to turn off his removal. I then drew a Darkblast to start clearing the way of the mana creatures he played over the next few turns. I just kept dredging back Darkblast seeing multiple Tarmogoyfs and Delvers hitting the graveyard. At this point I have Steve so low on life that he’s forced to Swords to Plowshares his only creature, a Qasali Pridemage. He draws a Knight of the Reliquary, but I’ve been sitting on multiple Ghastly Demise and an Abrupt Decay all game. Mongoose deals 21 damage that game.
Round Six: Feature Match vs. Tom Leger with Junk
Game One: I mulligan, it’s actually the first time all day. I take the tempo role early playing a quick Delver of Secrets backed by Wastelands, I get Tom very low on life before he starts to stabilize. He then kills both of my creatures and starts attacking with one of his two Tarmogoyfs. I draw a Nimble Mongoose. Play it, Tom draws Bojuka Bog and removes my graveyard. Back breaking. I draw a Tarmogoyf and it’s back to being a stalemate. I draw into Brainstorm. Cast it, drawing Abrupt Decay, Wasteland, and Force of Will. Put back Force of Will and the Daze from my hand. Play Wasteland and Wasteland his only white source. He casts swords on my Tarmogoyf. Which was important because I would’ve killed him if he didn’t. I pass. He attacks and I take it. During his end step, I fetch and Abrupt Decay his untapped Tarmogoyf. I draw Ghastly Demise but my graveyard is still too small to kill his creature. I attack for one putting him to one. Tom draws a Wasteland and destroys my Underground Sea, but not before I could float for a black mana. As Tom attempts to enter his attack step I can now Demise his Tarmogoyf due to the added card in the graveyard. The Nimble Mongoose is lethal on my turn.
Sideboarding: -4 Force of Will, +2 Ghastly Demise, +1 Darkblast, +1 Thoughtseize
Game Two: I played like an absolute donkey, I played so poorly I should’ve lost the round. I played Daze on Dark Confidant when he had a Deathrite Shaman in play, played into Choke. That game was just terrible. I scooped on turn four.
Game Three: Angry at myself, I shuffled up and was ready. I Thoughtseize targeting Tom early after he mulliganed to see that he kept a pair of Swords to Plowshares, Knight of the Reliquary, Scavenging Ooze, Karakas, and Bojuka Bog. I took a Swords. I wait until I get enough mana in play to protect my Tarmogoyf before playing it, and then follow up with a Delver of Secrets. I Abrupt Decay Tom’s Ooze, then Ghastly Demise his Knight while my creatures beat him down.
Round Seven: Sam Roukas with Esperblade
Top 8: Jesse Adams with Maverick
Game One: I open up with two Delver of Secrets, Brainstorm to flip them both, and then sit on two Daze and a Spell Pierce to protect them. Jesse tries to have a big turn where he casts Oblivion Ring and Swords to Plowshares in the same turn but my counter spells stop him. The Delvers continue to attack until his life total reaches zero.
Sideboarding:-4 Force of Will, -1 Spell Pierce, +2 Dread of Night, +2 Ghastly Demise, +1 Darkblast
Game Two: I don’t have any notes nor do I remember this game – but I lost. Just imagine the coolest thing that Maverick can do and pretend that’s what Jesse did to me.
Game Three: I once again open the game with two Delvers and counter spell the one and only removal spell Jesse played. He had an opportunity for a different line of play that might have bought him a single turn, but he opted to not tap his cradle to play the Jitte that he got from a Stoneforge Mystic. On my turn I discarded it with Inquisition of Kozilek. I never once drew a sideboard card in either game two or three, but I guess the key to defeating Maverick is to open with double Delver of Secrets.
Top 4: Paolo Cesari with RUG Delver/Canadian Threshold
Paolo and I talk about a split for a minute because I wanted to see Polar Bear Club (PBC) playing in Syracuse. If I left within the next ten minutes I could make it to the venue with a couple of minutes to spare. I decide to play it out.
Game One: I keep a hand with two lands that quickly get destroyed by a Wasteland and Stifle. I scoop.
I then scooped the round to Paolo, he asks if I’m sure. Positive. The difference between Underground Sea and Volcanic Island wasn’t worth not seeing one of my favorite bands. I get in the car and race back to Syracuse, drop Nick off at home, and rush to the venue. I get there ten minutes before PBC took the stage. They put on an incredible show. Anyone who doesn’t listen to them should definitely check them out.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource