State of the Meta—Tourney Report

I’m here to tell you the good word from our house of worship (Twenty Sided Store) that the meta-game is diverse and healthy. Last week’s 0-2-2 performance left me feeling mighty salty about my American Control deck. Sighting a general lack of win conditions and overall bad play/excellent play by my opponents I spent the week tweaking thedeck. A card here a card there, MORE ways to win… MORE DRAGONS. So I came up this this fancy little number, ready to play more angles and dragons and hopes of entering the control seat once more (it’s only been 12 years).

American Control

75 cards, 15 sideboard

2 Desolate Lighthouse
2 Sulfur Falls
1 Mountain
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Steam Vents
4 Clifftop Retreat
1 Island
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Plains
24 lands

2 Thundermaw Hellkite
1 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
2 Snapcaster Mage
5 creatures

1 Cyclonic Rift
3 Think Twice
3 Terminus
4 Entreat the Angels
3 Pillar of Flame
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Azorius Charm
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Dissipate
3 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Detention Sphere
2 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
31 other spells

Sideboard
1 Devil’s Play
2 Mizzium Mortars
1 Pillar of Flame
1 Angel of Serenity
2 Negate
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
1 Elixir of Immortality
2 Dissipate
2 Jace, Memory Adept
2 Purify the Grave

15 sideboard cards

The week prior I spent too much match time durdling with spells like Sphinx’s Revelation. It’s a really great card vs Control and mid game vs Aggro, but I was using it to find miracles half the time I went from three to one in the board and added 2 Entreats (I actually thought I was playing three) removed one Pillar for the Entreat and added two Thundermaw Hellkites. I moved an Angel to the board and took out a Niv altogether. I was still control based but once I took over the game now, I could finish off my opponent. I should tell you that all of my wins from last week were from ultimating Tamiyo and Pillaring my opponent to scoop with some kind of Dissipate.

After testing I was happier with the deck, but I’m still not comfortable in the control role yet and I’m having some real problems with the reanimator match-up… and basically everyone has hate for this deck right now. I so hit the tubes.

I was playing a B/R zombies list that was pretty sweet. It was the same 75 that Joe Bernal ran in Cincy. I played Zombies in the last standard format and was pretty comfortable with the interactions and knowing what to do in pretty much every situation. B/R zombies had one major flaw… it loses to lifegain. There’s a lot of Life gain in this meta. Especially at the Twenty Sided Store. Humans really smokes it with Elite Inquisitor (pro zombies/vigilance). What’s a shambler to do?

Then I saw this from Gerry Thompson’s run in California States.

4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Dreg Mangler
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Gravecrawler
2 Knight of Infamy
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Rakdos Cackler

24 Creatures

4 Crippling Blight
3 Dead Weight
4 Rancor
1 Sever the Bloodline

12 other Spells

4 Golgari Guildgate
4 Overgrown Tomb
10 Swamp
4 Woodland Cemetery

22 Lands

SIDEBOARD

2 Appetite for Brains
1 Bloodline Keeper
3 Deathrite Shaman
2 Golgari Charm
1 Sever the Bloodline
2 Skirsdag High Priest
2 Underworld Connections
2 Victim of Night

I did a little research and Gerry had some things to say after his top 4. I read the match-ups and the sideboard choices and that he decided to update his list after with this. Which I ran card for card on Tuesday.

Gerry Thompson B/G Zombies

75 cards, 15 sideboard

4 Woodland Cemetery
2 Cavern of Souls
3 Golgari Guildgate
4 Overgrown Tomb
9 Swamp
22 lands

4 Geralf’s Messenger
2 Knight of Infamy
4 Dreg Mangler
4 Lotleth Troll
4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Gravecrawler
4 Rakdos Cackler
26 creatures

4 Dead Weight
4 Rancor
4 Crippling Blight
12 other spells

Sideboard
2 Sever the Bloodline
3 Underworld Connections
2 Skirsdag High Priest
3 Appetite for Brains
2 Golgari Charm
3 Deathrite Shaman
15 sideboard cards

Round 1: Justin – G/W Aggro

Justin’s rocking creatures with really annoying abilities. Call of the Conclave, Centaur Healers are a pain in the neck for zombies and so are Thragtusks, but Rancor took me through game one pretty easy. I decide this is gonna be a creature war for game two.

-4 Rakdos Cackler + 2 Skirsdag High Priest +2 Sever the Bloodline (for fatties I haven’t seen yet, but are sure he’s packing)

Game 2 was close but after a creature stall I was able to activate my High Priest after he flashed in an angel to kill an attacking Mangler (Rancor’d) with several other creatures on the bored and him tapped out the next turn I confidently swung for lethal. It was a cookie cutter game that I couldn’t have won without the help of my sideboard. I really like SHP in this deck, so many annoying flyers that are not ready for 5/5 demons replacing my 2/1 zombies.

2-0 (2-0)

Round 2 Bobby – Junk Reanimator

Bobby tells me this is his first tourney since coming back to the game. I’m thinking, “alright another 2-0 and grab a little food and scout the field for round 3… maybe read up on the match-ups.

Game one: I’m running hot with a serious curve on board presence, when Bobby turn three Grisly Savages… Angel of Serenity, Thragtusk, Land, Unburial Rites… I know he’s got his forth land from an earlier Mulch, but I decide to run it out. It was close but in the end I lost all my gas to his 4th turn Angel… what’re you gonna do?

Sideboard: I’ve played this match-up the most in the past few weeks of standard. I know the deck maybe better than its pilot. -4 cackler -4 dead weight +2 Sever the Bloodline +3 Appetite for Brains +3 Deathrite Shaman

Game 2: I was determined to mull to a Shaman, but my opener showed Shaman plus plenty of gas. I put the peddle to the metal and left one open for his graveyard each turn. Appetite in midgame showed two angels in hand. Took one, with that knowledge I played steadier with a Sever in my hand. Thragtusk, Severed… Angel Flashed it back. And ended him.

Game 3: was much of the same I had my board to thank for those wins and my playtesting friends for the knowledge of what to do.

Round 3: Anthony Lowry – Jund

Lowry is one the store’s better players. In a store full of better players that says something. He’s methodical, plays solid decks, and makes few play mistakes. I note that this is his first real match against me. I’m excited, frankly, this is a chance to play someone I know is on a serious level in a tournament scenario.

It’s all business for Lowry, we shuffle shake, wish each other good luck, and then it’s game face.

Game one is hard fought and even managed to get an Olivia off the board but he was prepared with a second and his Huntmaster and Thragtusk had me on the ropes after he stabilized from the zombie barrage. Olivia killed my Gravecrawlers. Game one was his. Hands down.

Sideboard -3 cackler -4 dead weight +2 Sever the Bloodline +3 Underworld Connections +2 Skirsdag high priest

This was a mistake… I should have kept in the Dead Weights which we will see in game three.

Game Two: I took an early lead and with Lotleth Troll and Underworld Connections there was a board stall for a bit but I was able to draw out of it with the Connections. I was careful to note that most Jund deckd only have sorcery speed removal that can kill the Troll and did tap out a few times hoping that Lowry’s deck was of a similar build. Lowry surveyed the situation surgically and eventually scooped when all hope was lost.

Game Three: He drops a turn one Deathrite Shaman. I curse myself for not playing any from my board. Over the next 10-14 turns he shocks me and gains life where applicable. I was kicking myself about siding out my Dead Weights. It was a tight game… until it wasn’t. I congratulated Lowry and thanked him for the game. I learned a lot about this match up and had yet to play Jund, so it was a really good learning experience.

NOTE: Some jackass, interrupted me as I was chatting with Lowry about not having the dead weights in the deck after board. Something like , “Every spell he casts is a shock, as well.” Which had ZERO bearing on the conversation we were having. That point was BEYOND OBVIOUS as he had just killed me with Deathrite Shaman for 20. Dude, SHHHH no one wants to hear you berate people while you stand behind their opponent. Have some respect for the game and don’t be a pompous ass. I politely kept my mouth shut and continued my conversation, out of respect for the store and the atmosphere of camaraderie we have there.

SHAKE IT OFF, ZAC… Who was that guy? Anyhow. It was a really solid game I hope to see Lowry on the other side of the table soon. It was pleasure playing him.

Round 4: Paul – RDW

I took Game one by a turn after a mull to six. Just threw down zombies and killed his early threats. My targets were resilient to his removal. I was happy to get the first game, cuz I don’t like this match up one bit. Paul is more that proficient with this Deck to burn me out. One more burn spell and I was toast. A Brimstone Volley would have put me in a rotten situation.

Sideboard -4 Cackler -4 GraveCrawler +2 Skirsdag High Priest +3 Deathrite Shaman +1 Golgari Charm + 2 Sever the Bloodline

Game Two: Paul gets me to 2 life before I stabilize and begin eating brains and damaging him. With no life gain for miles Paul eventually draws the burn spell he needs to win.

Game Three: I keep Woodland Cemetery, Swamp, Geralf’s Messenger, 2 Dead Weight, Death Rite Shaman, Lotleth Troll. “GOT THIS!” I’m thinking. he plays a turn one Stromkirk Noble… Dead Weight. Ash Zealot… I play Deathrite he ignores him for a few turns. Rakdos Shredfreak I’m at 14 Lotleth Troll (with regen back) I block the Zealot and regen. I play a Skirsdag High Preist, and block his RSF with it for a trade. Ash Zealot with Troll and drop dreg mangler into graveyard and a diregraf ghoul AZ dies. I zap with DRS on some burn in his yard I’m at 11 now and he’s low on cards… I play another Mangler and attack with GM scavenged… Searing Spear on my DM. After some damage from a Hellrider and some life gain I’m at 12 and he’s dead next turn if I get to attack again. I DON’T because he epically draws the Mark of Mutiny he sided in. GM is now a 7/6 with his Hellrider 3/3 plus 2 from Hellrider trigger. AMAZING… I was actually excited for him. That was a rip of a life time. Meanwhile I’m sitting here cursing this DEAD WEIGHT it’s enchantment speed removal is worthless… If this was tragic slip I’d have won.

I congratulated Paul, way to mise! That Deathrite Shaman got so much mileage and it still wasn’t enough… there was nothing in the graveyard by that point to gain life with. What a game.

So if I was to do anything to fix the deck for the next time around: OUT Dead Weights and IN Tragic Slip (which I would have never sided out verses Lowry’s deck).

Lets look back though:

Round 1: GW Aggro

Round 2: Junk Reanimator

Round 3: Jund

Round 4: RDW

I’d say thats a healthy looking Meta. And I used all of my sideboard. Neato! Off to GP Philly I’ll be one of 20 or so cats sporting a Matt Jones T-shirt.

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