It has been an interesting couple of weeks in the D&T world. While I went heavy on Mirran Crusader to fight against the current metagame, other people have been experimenting with other tech. There was an interesting post suggesting that The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale is a viable sideboard card in D&T. MTGO user Egget put up a 6-1 finish in a Legacy Challenge with a list featuring two Rest in Peace in the maindeck. There was also the emergence of a 5 Color Human deck in Modern that bears a strong resemblance to D&T in terms of general strategy and playstyle, and I’ve seen a few people mucking around with a Legacy port of that as well.
I chatted with Michael Derczo quite a bit in the weeks leading up to the Team Open. We were both very happy with our lists from EW and the Legacy Open, so we didn’t want to change much. For his last event, he had a Vryn Wingmare in the maindeck over my Sanctum Prelate, but otherwise our lists were identical. I liked having a fifth flier in the deck, as going to the 4 Crusader build meant that I lost my Avengers, but I also felt that having a Prelate in the deck was absolutely essential for the Punishing Fire and Life from the Loam matchups. We ending up registering the same 75 for the event, opting to keep the Wingmare in the main, but drop a Containment Priest from the board to squeeze in the Prelate.
Crusader D&T 11/20
My team for the event was the same as last time around, Harley Cox on Modern and Mike Kerby on Standard. Collectively, we finished at 6-3 for the day once again, missing the cut which was at 6-2-1. I’m going to focus on my own results from here on out. The main event was a very medicore finish of 5-4:
1-2 vs Sneak and Show
1-2 vs Eldrazi
1-2 vs High Tide
2-0 vs Grixis Delver
1-2 vs Eldrazi
2-1 vs Czech Pile
2-1 vs Czech Pile
2-1 vs Grixis Delver
2-0 vs Punishing Maverick
Round 2 vs Eldrazi
The difference between a team event and an individual event in that your teammates can save you from our own folly. My opponent this round make numerous errors, and I’m not going to harp on all of them, but it shall suffice to say that my opponent was very inexperienced with Legacy. I was about to take over the game with equipment while at two life. My opponent does not realize that he can just kill me by activating Eye of Ugin to tutor up Reality Smasher. He just failed at counting his mana. His teammate then counts his mana for him and tells him to activate Eye. He wants to get an Endbringer. His teammate asks what my life total is, and then tells him to just kill me with Smasher. Sometimes you lose to the teammate, and not your opponent. Such is the nature of a team event. Unrelated, my opponent’s deck also had Ramunap Excavator in it. My eyebrows raised quite a bit when he put Cavern of Souls on Naga…
Round 3 vs High Tide
Sometimes, you do everything right, but things just don’t work out. In game 3, I let my opponent resolve the first High Tide, and then used a Surgical Extraction to rip them from the deck in response to him cracking two fetches. My opponent cast a Time Spiral, and I drew a second Surgical. My opponent resolved a Turnabout, and then I went to extract that too. Unfortunately, he had a second Turnabout at that moment, dampening the effect of my efforts. My opponent ended up with just enough mana to cantrip a couple of times and find a Cunning Wish for Brainfreeze. You earned that one. Well done!
Round 7 vs Czech Pile
I was paired this round against my friend Paul Lynch, so I knew this was going to be a fun one. The first two games are highly interactive and interesting, but the third game left us both feeling a bit sour. He casts a Ponder, and while he is thinking about it, I go to look and see what is going on with my teammates. I look back, and then one of Paul’s teammates says, “Paul, that’s not a Brainstorm…” *expletives on both sides of the table* I can’t confirm which cards were from the Ponder, so I call the judge. The ruling for this was essentially that I got to choose which cards were a part of his Ponder and which cards were a part of his hand. Paul appealed, but it was upheld. It’s a feel-bad situation, but it’s very difficult to lose from a position where you have perfect information AND you get to sculpt your opponent’s hand. My hand was great, and Paul had mulliganed to five already, but that’s not how I wanted this round to go.
There was some poor communication on the end of the judges with this call due to the appeal. We were never told how much of a time extension we received. Accordingly, I looked at the slip and saw a 12. I assumed that meant we had a 12 minute extension. I was wrong. It turns out that the 12 indicated that our match would begin extra turns when the clock hit 12 minutes over. We were both utterly baffled when the judge told us that we were now in turns considering that the judge call had lasted about 20 minutes. We had only received an extension for the part of the judge call that had been during normal round time, which makes sense and is correct, but the judges hadn’t initially let us know that and were a bit unsure about when the judge call actually started. Despite the warping nature of the judge ruling and his mulligan to five, we had a surprisingly good game. Our plays became a little odd towards the end since we were both trying to close the game quickly. Paul scooped to me in turns, having no outs to my Mirran Crusader with SoFaI and Flickerwip backup.
Round 9 vs Punishing Maverick
Okay, so this round was the epitome of everything going wrong on both sides of the table. My opponent established an early Punishing Fire lock, keeping all of my small creatures off the field. My Wastelands had kept my opponent completely off of white mana. Neither one of us could do a thing. Over the course of about 15 turns or so, I managed to sneak in all three pieces of equipment. My life total was at 33 solely from Grove of the Burnwillows…yeah, it was that sort of game.
I slowly wiggle myself into a position where I get a few Jitte counters and manage to get a couple of creatures to stick to the board. My opponent (finally) draws a white source, and is able to start deploying the cards that have been stuck in his hand all game. I was able to get in a few chip shots with varying combinations of a Batterskull and a Stoneforge Mystic wielding Jitte. My opponent was at 2 life when he was finally able to produce Marit Lage via Knight of the Reliquary. I had just a Stoneforge Mystic with Batterskull and Jitte equipped in play, so my opponent thought his board of Scavening Ooze and the giant tentacle monster would be enough to get him back in the game. I bounced the Batterksull and redeployed it during my opponent’s end step, plowed the Ooze during my turn, and swung in for lethal. I ended that game at 61 life.
Our team ending up doing the submarine that day. We dove down to the depths of 0-3, and then finished out the day 6-0. While not enough to make day 2, we had redeemed our pride and had the same finish as at the previous team open. That’s good enough for me! We met up with one of my friends from Baltimore for a late dinner, and she suggested some Indian place that featured a belly dancing show. The venue was actually pretty small, so it was rather hilarious to watch the waitresses and waiters try to sneak past the belly dancers and sword twirling to deliver food and drinks. We enjoyed the spectacle, but headed in pretty quickly after dinner so that we could get a decent night’s sleep before the Classic.
I managed an unimpressive 4-3 finish in the Classic.
2-1 vs RB Reanimator
0-2 vs Sneak and Show
0-2 vs Lands
2-0 vs Eldrazi
2-1 vs Deathblade
1-2 vs Grixis Delver
2-0 vs Food Chain
Round 1 vs RB Reanimator
Many people say that you need to mulligan very aggressively to graveyard hate in this matchup or you will lose. I disagree. In both of the games I won, I just kept reasonable 6 card hands with strong mana denial. A combination of Wasteland and Port effectively took down game two. Thalia and Wasteland took down game 3. You don’t need to throw away otherwise reasonable hands if they lack graveyard hate, but you do need to have a clear path to victory.
Round 4 vs Eldrazi
I lose the die roll. I then look at the following opening hand and tank: Thalia, Plains, Cavern of Souls, Rishadan Port, and 3 Wastelands. If my opponent is playing a deck with lots of basic lands, I’m probably losing this one. If my opponent leads on Deathrite Shaman, I probably lose this one. I keep the hand given its potential power level, acknowledging that my potential loss may come about at cost of this keep. My opponent leads on Eye of Ugin, and I was immediately rewarded for my sketchy keep. I blow up his first three lands and handily take down the game. My opponent was so tilted by the first game here that he kept a six land hand in game two. *shrug* It worked out.
Round 5 vs Deathblade
This round was fun. We had two very complex games. The first ended with my Batterskull and Mom trumping his Monastery Mentor. The second effectively ended after a 3-for-1 off a Zealous Persecution. We had an incredibly complex board state in game 3 involving multiple pieces of equipment, a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on my side, and about a dozen creatures. He blows up the world with a Toxic Deluge. My opponent is at five life. I have a Gideon. I animate Gideon and swing in. He takes the damage and says, “I’ll go to one.” I let him know that Gideon is a 5/5. A look of horror spreads across his face. He had confused Gideon, Ally of Zendikar with Gideon of the Trials, which is a 4/4. Oops.
Round 6 vs Grixis Delver
It’s really annoying how good True-Name Nemesis is against D&T. In game 2, I just got 7 turn clocked by it after my opponent deployed it on turn 2. In game 3, my opponent started with another early TNN. My Council’s Judgment was snatched up by a Thoughtseize, so getting the little guy out of the picture was unlikely. A few turns later, my opponent was at 4, I was at 5. I had my opponent’s board under control with the exception of that wily TNN. My Crusader and Flickerwisp were threatening lethal the following turn, aided by a pair of Moms. All I needed to do was dodge Lightning Bolt for one turn, and life was golden. Sure enough, my opponent drew Bolt for the turn and I made some loud, obnoxious noises as I lamented my death. This time, TNN had killed me in six turns rather than 7 due to the friendly red spell! My opponent tried to console me, stating that at least I died to a Beta, signed Bolt rather than some white boarded garbage. I had a good laugh.
Round 7 vs Food Chain
We sit down for the round, and acknowledge that this is just a match for fun at this point before getting things started. My opponent laughs at his hand and then shows it to me. A blue fetch, 4 Brainstorms, and 2 Ponders. We laugh and he takes a mulligan. In game 1, I see only the following cards: a cantrip or two, Forest, Island, and Swamp. My mana denial combo of Thalia and triple Port left him unable to cast anything meaningful. He concealed a little bit of information and tried to keep me in the dark for sideboarding.
I boarded for Aluren. My opponent was on Food Chain, so most of my boarding choices ending up working perfectly. Game 2 was a little bit comical. Again, I had a pair of Ports which kept my opponent choked on mana. I opted to release him from my clutches for a turn to deploy Gideon, as he would likely shorten my clock by about 3 or 4 turns. My opponent took the opportunity to cast a Trinket Mage and tutor up a Pithing Needle. Unforunately, I Wasted one of his lands and Ported the other two, so Gideon did him in very quickly before he drew another land for the Needle.
This weekend wasn’t great for me. I had an overall record of 9-7, which is only about a 56% win rate. That being said, I love the decklist and think D&T is still very well-positioned in the metagame right now. I started keeping some pretty detailed records of my paper and MTGO data after Eternal Weekend, and that was considerably lower than my normal performance. I was very happy with my results against Grixis Delver (8-1) and Czech Pile (6-1), decks I anticipated as two of the more popular decks going into the event. Most of my losses were extremely close, and only two of my seven losses were 0-2 results.
Moving forward, I likely won’t make too many changes to my list. I still love having four Crusaders, and I like most of my other choices as well. The sideboard space is really tight as is, and I already felt like I was cheating a bit by dropping a Containment Priest. I have my eye on a couple of things though:
1. I’m not sure that the Sneak and Show matchup is as favorable as it used to be. I know that sounds blasphemous to say, but my data is supporting it. I keep getting skunked in this matchup even when I have hate. Most of the recent builds have been packing ~3 Omniscience in the main, and we have considerable trouble beating that card. It largely ignores Revoker, Thalia, Karakas, and Containment Priest, while also only being mildly inconvenienced by Canonist. Their sideboard also frequently has dedicated hate for this matchup, most notably Kozilek’s Return, which has been a beating. Most D&T lists have also moved away from having extra hate (e.g. Pithing Needle) to make room for other things, which is certainly a contributing factor.
2. Eldrazi might be on the rise again. It was very heavily represented at this event. I don’t lean too heavily on data from team events, as things are skewed a bit, but considering that my roommate made the top 8 of the last Open with it as well, it’s on my radar. I’m not overly fond of this matchup, so it it continues to pick up steam, it might be time for another removal spell in the 75.