Cook’s Kitchen – Preparing for Atlanta
I imagine Chipper Jones and Ludacris will be waiting for me at the end of my terminal when I arrive in Atlanta on Thursday night. Possibly Rick Grimes too if he’s not too busy wrecking the undead. Hopefully Rick will shoot Chipper for me for the years of suffering he’s created for Mets fans. How cool would it be to be in Atlanta when the outbreak finally happens? These are the things I think about. I daydream a lot. This is probably caused by years of watching too many episodes of Scrubs.
Well I will be in Atlanta during one event this weekend, The NCAA Final Four! My hometown team – The Syracuse Orange will also be there! They’ll likely be doing work against the Michigan Wolverines. Although, this isn’t the reason I’ll be in Atlanta. I’ll be slinging Grapeshot at the Star City Games Invitational at Atlanta. When Dan Walton said we were going to Atlanta for the event I was thrilled, I instantly knew what pile of cards I was going to shuffle up for the Legacy portions. I was a bit uneasy about the Standard deck I would be piloting.
This goes back to Star City Games: Washington, D.C. where I played a URW Tempo Variant with both Boros Reckoner and Geist of Saint Traft. I felt very comfortable with this deck after weeks of playing it in local events. Well, things didn’t quite pan out as expected. I lost the mirror match in the first round due to the fact that Thundermaw Dragon was a more difficult threat to deal with than Geist of Saint Traft. My next loss was to Prime Speaker Bant and the following round another close loss to Esper. I was very disappointed and quickly was in the Legacy Challenge.
Once I was done with my personal UWR “Flash-ish” variant I turned my head and began to look at Esper control. I built it one night and realized that it simply just wasn’t my type of deck, no matter how good it was. I enjoy decks that win at a quicker pace, preferably a tempo or combo deck. Then I realized something else, even if I was enthusiastic about Esper, I simply didn’t have enough time to learn to properly play this deck before the invitation. At the previous two SCG: Invitationals I had already been piloting Delver variants for months, two weeks of jamming Esper just isn’t enough time to play the deck at a high enough level. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a mirror match against the likes of someone like Gerry Thompson for example. The odd of being able to outplay a highly skilled player with more experience with Esper in the mirror is very slim. That’s when the epiphany hit me that instead of trying to grind out every round that I should just avoid interaction much like I do in Legacy.
Humanimator appeared to be a great option. Bringing back fallen Angels that destroy zombies is really fun and at the same time you can completely ignore Thragtusks and other value cards. The best part was the fantastic mirror match that Humanimator had, it was faster and could easily put Purify the Grave into the sideboard. Then… Reanimator won for a second weekend in a row. Graveyard hate was now at an all-time high for recent years in Standard. It just didn’t seem wise to continue playing a graveyard-based strategy. I created a transformational sideboard that contained Thragtusks, Restoration Angels, Angel of Serenity, Abrupt Decays and even a pair of Purify the Grave. But even with the deck’s extremely high game one win percentage, you’re now piloting an awful midrange deck for the next two games just hoping to squeak out a win. It wasn’t what I had in mind.
Talking to Dan Walton we decided playing something fast would be great since it does well against Reanimator. Dan recommended Boros Deck Wins, I built it and decided to play it at the local FNM that night. Dan tried R/g aggro so we can evaluate the differences. While playing a couple of casual games against one another we realized that the differences between me winning and losing was the lack of Burning-Tree Emissary. Round one was paired, as I sat down I decided to add four Emissaries to the deck. Being able to swing for six on turn two when paired with Lightning Mauler and attacking with the one drop creature was incredible. It just provided free wins the entire night. The only round I lost was two consecutive games of mana-flood against UWR Flash. I was very happy with this deck and ALMOST decided to play it at the invitational.
Then I saw Rakdos Charm in a Jund Aggro list! I contemplated turning from Boros to just Rakdos since the only white card was Boros Charm. The reason Rakdos Charm is very good right now is that it’s actually incredibly effective at defeating both of Reanimators strategies – Reanimating huge creatures and putting value creatures into play repeatedly. At this point with both Emissary and Rakdos Charm there just wasn’t a good reason to not play Jund Aggro.
One of the best reasons to play Jund Aggro over Red Deck Wins variants is that its one drops aren’t as easily out-classed by the opponents threats. One thing that I decided to include from my testing with Boros Deck Wins was Lightning Mauler. The card was amazing with Emissary, but in this deck it also gives Ghor-Clan Rampager haste making that card not so inherently slow.
The sideboard is pretty standard with an additional Rakdos Charm due to the circumstances that this metagame has created. Also, there’s a singleton Mizzium Mortars. To be perfectly honest, it’s because I couldn’t find anything else. However, much like Dreg Mangler it provides a late usage for additional mana sources, with Mortars it’s in the form of mass removal. I played Jund Aggro in a small local event and went undefeated on the night. I’m really hoping that I’m making a good decision.
I know that I’m confident in my decision for Legacy, I’m just a little bit worried. If that made absolutely any sense at all. I’m completely confident in my deck and my ability to pilot it in a higher level event. Where my uneasiness comes from is the previous two Star City Games: Legacy Open Series events. Why? Well, they were both won by players (One of them being me) storming their way to first. This causes me to believe that the storm hate will be out in droves. I’m just hoping that the players piling on additional sideboard cards for storm do poorly because of it or at least knock each other out in the process.
While you’re reading this, I’ll be in Atlanta, maybe the event hasn’t even started yet or perhaps it’s already several rounds in. Check in and see how my deck choice for Standard is performing, Legacy too if you have the time! For those of you unfamiliar with the structure of the event: The event is four rounds of Legacy followed by four rounds of Standard for Friday. All players with a 5-3 record will advance to day two. Day two is the same as Friday, four rounds of Legacy and four rounds of Standard. Then Sunday will be the top 8. Stay tuned! Also, Let’s go Orange!
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource