My hot streak has ended. It was bound to happen, unfortunately, it happened this past weekend at Grand Prix: Indianapolis. Misfortunate paired with some play errors and not being fully prepared for the event caused me to not perform to my own expectations. I probably should’ve realized I was on a downward spiral during the grinder I played in, where in round three I lost games one against Dredge with four mana and the other game three mana floating after a Diminishing Returns. Frustrating. That Friday night I tested against Trevor Brown’s Maverick list (which he made day two with) and the results were 50/50 pre and post board. This was supposed to be a good match-up, well it was before the last few weeks. Maverick won the last Jupiter event, the Star City Games Open, and the monthly event in Germany. In these events Thalia, Guardian of Thraben proved to be incredibly good, enough to move two to three copies to the main decks of many Maverick lists.
I didn’t adapt. Not changing with the most popular deck really hurt me during the Grand Prix. One gleaming bit of luck I did have was a round two bye that I was unaware of. Sadly, unlike some others I had to play my round three. If I would have won my match it would’ve been like I had three byes. I did not. During game one, I lead off with a turn one Ponder off of an Underground Sea. My opponent began the game with a Misty Rainforest then passed the turn. Turn two, I had the option of going all in and winning or waiting a turn and playing Duress that turn. I decided to Duress, looked at Thalia, Savannah, Green Sun Zenith, Umezawa’s Jitte, Swords to Plowshares, Knight of the Reliquary, and Elspeth, Knight-Errant. I was forced to take Jitte, because my only out to Thalia and Gaddeck Teeg is Pyroclasm or Grapeshot. I would’ve had a hard time killing these creatures with the mana I had. My opponent plays Savannah, fetches, and plays Thalia. I draw a land and Burning Wish for Pyroclasm. My opponent draws and plays Wasteland. I don’t draw another land, then draws Karakas to ensure I can’t kill Thalia.
This is how game two went, Mother of Runes, Thalia, Thalia in consecutive turns. I remind my opponent that Thalia is Legendary. I however, mulliganed and am stuck on one land. But if I draw a second mana source I can win the game, three turns go by without drawing a mana source. He finally draws a Green Sun’s Zenith for Gaddeck Teeg. I lose. My opponent apologizes, I tell him that, “It’s Magic and that happens”. That seemed to be my theme for the rest of the day. Later on in round five, I lost two back-to-back games in which I dealt with hate bears, game one, I managed to Pyroclasm away Gaddeck Teeg and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben then cast Ad Nauseam from fourteen and kill myself. Then game two dealt with Mother of Runes and Ethersworn Cannonist only die to my Ad Nauseam from thirteen.
I may come off as a crybaby right now, but that’s not my intention. I felt like I was fighting an uphill battle the entire weekend and there just wasn’t much I could do about it. Between bad luck and misplaying, I was awful. My opponents even tried to let me win a couple of times. Who would’ve guessed I’d get smashed by Forests and Plains, right? I just can’t seem to beat them. Laugh it up – it’s all right. I’m feeling pretty defeated. These Green and White decks at the moment are no longer a positive match-up, though they’re certainly not a bad match-up either. While I did lose to Maverick twice in the event, it’s just variance where I lost the coin flip twice in a row.
I did prepare slightly to beat these Green and White pests but I now believe my preparation was wrong. I cut the Silent Departure from my sideboard to make room for a Pyroclasm. It should’ve been Infest. But why not Virtue’s Ruin? Virtue’s Ruin is too narrow. Sometimes it’s necessary to kill a board full of 2/2’s or 1/1’s, Elves, Goblins, or Zombies. These circumstances happen from time to time. I chose Pyroclasm over Infest for mana purposes. With a Thalia on the table Burning Wish for Pyroclasm is 4RR over the course of two turns where Infest is 4BBR over two turns. I thought the extra mana in a deck full of Gemstone Mines and Lotus Petals would be too crucial. It wasn’t in any circumstance that Mother of Ruins/Thalia happened to me. Instead, I was forced to wait for a bounce spell and then Pyroclasm. In this time, I drew more mana than bounce spells. It was the middle of the day that I realized how much I regretted not having Infest in my sideboard. The reason that Infest is better than Pyroclasm is Mother of Ruins cannot protect creatures from untargeted negative effects. Ryan McKinney was nice enough to find me a Japanese Foil Onslaught Infest for my sideboard, but it was too late. The damage had already been done for the Grand Prix, but I’ll have it for future events.
Out side of Maverick, my other losses on the weekend including side events were against BW Disruption, High Tide, RUG Delver, and Combo Elves. One thing I found very strange is I didn’t play against a single deck with Islands in them until I was out of contention round 9 against High Tide. I legitimately lost against BW to knock me out of Day two. That deck just crushed me. Both games I managed to dump my hand on the battlefield and hope to draw a Tutor effect, it never happened. The other matches were all just bad luck and mulliganing into oblivion. I didn’t feel confident the entire weekend while playing, I normally have the “Boxer Mentality” that Ted Knutson has written about – if you haven’t read this I recommend doing so. Losing to Maverick twice really messed with me. I felt out of my element. But I’m feeling pretty positive I’ll bounce back.
As I’m writing this, it’s Monday at 12:25PM, and I haven’t really slept in about 36 hours. But at about 3:30AM on my way back to Syracuse this morning, I thought of some ways to improve the match-up. Either these ideas are terrible and caused from sleep deprivation or hopefully some good thoughts. I’m really hoping for the latter.
The first as I’ve already mentioned was Infest, the second being cutting Pyroblast from the sideboard. Hear me out before clicking that red X at the top of the browser. It’s not because I didn’t play against Islands besides the one round, it’s because I want a more versatile card that can come in against Maverick as well as blue based decks. I’m opting for Inquisition of Kozilek.
Thoughtseize is another option, but I don’t want to be paying life to take a card from my opponents’ hand against Maverick or RUG Delver. Both are very popular and aggressive decks and the life total is very relevant. The downside to cutting Pyroblast is Counterbalance is slightly better against T.E.S. and so is a reanimated Jin-Gitaxias. However, Inquisition could always just rip the problematic cards out of their hands. There’s also the fact that Counterbalance and Reanimator decks aren’t very popular at the moment. The upside is that Inquisition can take Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Gaddeck Teeg, and Green Sun Zenith from Maverick’s hand on turn one. I’d also be cutting the Duress from the sideboard for the fourth Inquistion of Kozilek. They’re very similar but at the moment creatures are very popular, meaning that Duress has to leave for now.
The current sideboard for T.E.S. after these changes is as follows:
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
2 Echoing Truth
1 Shattering Spree
1 Empty the Warrens
1 Tendrils of Agony
1 Ill-Gotten Gains
1 Past in Flames
1 Diminishing Returns
The new sideboarding strategy for T.E.S. against Maverick would be:
-3 Orim’s Chant
+4 Inquisition of Kozilek
+2 Echoing Truth
Outside of my performance I had a great time in Indianapolis. My good friend Colin Chilbert made top 4, Trevor Brown and Dan Walton also day two’d, all from our car. I picked up some foils, saw some old friends, met a couple new ones, and signed some Grapeshots (This one is a bit of a joke, but it did happen). Indy, I had fun, but the drive sucked. The first thing I did when I got home was bought four Japanese foil Inquistions of Kozilek. I’m serious when I say that they’re going to be good. Well I got that reality check that many people thought I needed, but I’m going to stay positive and do what I do best – count to storm twenty.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource