Today’s article is really more of a view into my metagaming and deckbuilding process than anything else. I tend to have a very good idea of what I want to play for a given tournament, but occasionally at smaller, local-level events, you can do a ton of damage by properly metagaming and adjusting your deck on the fly. I rolled up to SCG HQ this morning with the intention of playing the following 75:
IQ Draft Decklist
I was a little unsure about what I wanted to play. Serra Avenger is currently the most contentious card that keeps floating in and out of the deck, and I think I’ve played a slightly different list most days since I started playtesting the new cards. Accordingly, I brought about 30 extra cards that I could slot into the deck and make last minute changes with, if I so desired. Well, as it so happens, there were only twelve people in the store for this particular IQ (there was another competing event in the area and a bunch of our regulars had traveled out of town). That meant that I could really adjust my deck to be perfect for the expected metagame. Here’s what I saw when scouting the room:
Oops, All Spells
Mono-Red Sneak Attack
My first thought was: “Someone is playing Bogles!” Once I got past that initial shock, I started tweaking. The manabase is always the easiest part, so I started there. Without any Miracles in the room, it didn’t make sense to run Cavern of Souls, so those got cut for two more Plains to help with the Burn and Mono-Red Sneak Attack matchups.
Next I turned to the creature base, which was a touch trickier. Ethersworn Canonist isn’t a card that I typically advocate for the maindeck, but I wanted it for 7 of the matchups in the room; it wouldn’t be great against Eldrazi, but it was live or actively good everywhere else. Canonist got promoted for the day, freeing up two sideboard slots. Those slots became the Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Banisher Priest from the main. Both were cards that I wanted to have access to, but didn’t feel the need to maindeck.
Next came tinkering with the sideboard. To have an answer to Bogles, I really needed a pair of Council’s Judgment; that card was also actively good in the Eldrazi and Deathblade matchups, so it was an easy include. With Elves, Sneak Attack, and Tin Fins in the room, a second copy of Containment Priest seemed logical as well.
Finally, I came to my final sideboard card. I wanted something that I could tutor up as a lifegain card for the Bogles and Burn matchup while still having utility elsewhere. After going through my box o’ goodies, I dug out Lone Missionary. Against Burn, it would likely effectively be worth about 6 life on average; either because I could trade it for a creature, or because I could blink it with Flickerwisp. Against Bogles, it would likely put me out of the range of a quick Become Immense and Assault Strobe kill.
That left me with the following decklist:
The tournament was really small, only 5 rounds with a cut to top 4. I’ll just give the breakdown as well as a few highlights.
1-2 vs ANT
2-0 vs Bogles
2-0 vs Burn
2-0 vs White Eldrazi
2-0 vs Mono-Red Sneak Attack
My ANT opponent had Daze for my turn two Thalia, something that I really wasn’t expecting, and then proceeded to storm off. I’m not going to say that the tech is good, but it completely caught me off guard. I’ll be more aware of that for the future, but I think it’s likely something that you don’t play around. If they have it, they have it, but not just jamming Thalia is probably wrong.
When I played against Bogles, I did indeed play Lone Missionary to buy myself a turn. It gave me enough time to get a Sanctum Prelate on 6 to shut off Become Immense, effectively locking my opponent out of the game. While Lone Missionary is not an objectively powerful card, it filled the niche role I needed it to for this exact event.
At that point, I was first seed going into the top four. Since the top four included two of my testing partners, we just decided to call it a day and top four split. That was worth something like $62.50 cash, another $50 in credit, and the usual playmat and pin that get thrown in the box o’ playmats and pins. Not bad for three and a half hours of my day… The deck that I built was probably pretty close to perfect for the event. All of my wins were 2-0 wins pretty easily, and my loss to ANT was due to some of my opponent’s own shenanigans, though I felt like the matchup was otherwise extremely positive. The final thing I’ll say is, “Don’t just rip off this decklist and bring it to your own event.” This was specifically made for one day, one event, one specific group of people. I wouldn’t bring this same 75 to an Open-sized event. That being said, you may find that you can do similar things at your own small events to end up with similar results.