Preparing for Gatecrash Gameday

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It’s been rough here in Nagoya since Gatecrash hit the scene. I’ve used a total of 5 different decks to varying results, but overall they haven’t been good.

The Nagoya Metagame

  • 2/1 – Card Brunch – 8 people (junk tokens)

4 color control (won 2-1.), Bant control, frites (lost 0-2. ), GW humans (lost 0-2.)

I used my Junk tokens deck in the first FNM where Gatecrash was legal and finished 1-2. While I managed to beat 4 color, I lost to both Frites and GW humans. There weren’t many cards I added into my GWB token deck, and perhaps that was my short coming. There were new strategies, new cards, and just wasn’t ready for it. My tokens deck had done well in the previous metagame, but things were going to have to change after this first event. Sick of losing, I decided to take apart my deck and try something different.

  • 2/3 – Hobby Station Mei Eki – 10 people, used UB zombie mill

RBW burn (lost 0-2. Too much damage lost.), Rakdos red, UB control (won 2-0.), UWR control, UWR Delver, JUND control (won 2-0.), Naya aggro WINNER

I tried something new on the 3rd, and it ended up working out. I went 2-1! I used my UB Zombie mill deck and found out that it did very well against control decks. I beat a UB control deck and a Jund control deck with no problem. I did learn that my Zombie control deck loses to really fast decks such as RBW burn. It kept the pressure on and kept burning me until I was out of counter spells and removal, and then finished me. Afterwards I decided to add in Vampire Nighthawks and since then the deck has done a little better.

  • 2/8 – Card Brunch – 12 people – used RW humans

Bant control (lost 0-2.), RW humans, UWR midrange (lost 0-2.), Bant hex proof (won 2-1. Safe passage and blind obedience work well. Add more burn?), Naya aggro WINNER, Naya midrange (2nd)

Trying something different yet again, I went 1-2 with RW humans. It was a decent deck and it had the ability to win on turn 4 against many decks if you had the right cards, but it lacked a decent sideboard. I didn’t have a play set of Boros Charms yet, and my sideboard lacked Skullcrack which is an ABSOLUTE MUST when you’re an aggro deck going up against control decks like GWB that has access to both Thragtusk and Sphinx’s Revelation.  UWR midrange also did me in with it’s various burn spells and counters. Without the right first hand, RW loses the tempo game quickly and never catches up.

I did, however, beat a Bant Hexproof deck (which pretty much only used Geist of Saint Traft as their win condition). The player wasn’t using Invisible Stalker, and the deck was a lot slower than decks I had faced before so it was easy to pick apart his deck for the win. I simply overwhelmed him with my first strike creatures.  This was also the first time I tried out Blind Obedience in an aggro deck, and it worked pretty well. Having to tap in his creatures like Restoration Angel let me push through a lot of damage early on while gaining life as well. Definitely worth trying out in an aggro deck.

  • 2/10 – C-labo Hamamatsu – 11 people – used UB zombie mill

UWR obedience perimeter (rogue – won 2-1.), BR zombies  (event WINNER. Lost 0-2.), BG zombies, Bant tempo, BWG heartless reanimator (lost 1-2.)

I went back to UB Zombie mill at a tournament in Hamamatsu, but finished with a 1-2 record. My removal package still seemed weak, especially with 4 Ultimate Price, so I decided to switch it up to a 2-2 split with Murder afterwards. My first opponent used a UWR Blind Obedience/Cackling Peremiter control deck and he managed to shut me down really good in one game. He focuses on wiping the board with Supreme Verdict and putting down multiple Obediences to bleed you dry, then uses Cackling Peremiter to finish the job with 12 Guildgates. Once I knew what to look out for, I managed to take out his threats.

BR zombies was back with a vengeance that weekend, and with the addition of Madcap Skills on a Gravecrawler it managed to get in about 10 damage by turn 3 before I could deal with it. I also saw a very interesting heartless summoning deck that ran 3 colors (GWB) and worked very much like a Junk aggro deck with Armada Wurm and Restoration Angel, and it also had Unburial Rites to bring back cards. What really did me in was third turn Acidic Slimes though. Aside from countering it there was little I could do when it hit the battlefield. My opponent did that in games 2 and 3 after I beat him easily in game 1, and I was mana screwed most of those games.

  • 2/11 – Card Brunch – 10 people – used UB mill

Esper control (lost 1-2.), GR werewolves (lost 0-2), Naya midrange (lost 0-2.)

I went 0-3 at this Monday night tournament. I learned that my Zombie mill deck’s weak point was fast aggro. I had no life gain either which led me to add in Vampire Nighthawks main for this metagame, and a lot of my cards like Jace and Mind Grind belonged in the sideboard so I did a lot of revising after this weekend. I also needed to work on keeping better hands until I know exactly what kind of deck I’d be up against.

  • 2/15 – Hobby Station Mei Eki – 17 people – used Simic aggro

RUG deathtouch (rogue – lost 1-2.), Bant midrange (lost 1-2.), JUND midrange (WINNER), Esper control, Naya aggro x2, mono black bolas control (lost 1-2. Bolas kicked my ass. Needed to put more pressure on opponent) Bant hex proof (2nd place)

*Sigh* – another 0-3 day. This was the first time using my Simic aggro deck, and while I managed to win the first game of each round, after sideboarding I got destroyed. Was my deck that easy to tear apart? I don’t think so. I believe the problem was my sideboard, which had me taking out a lot of things such as Elvish Visionary, Yeva, and other cards that underperformed. I also had quite a few mulligans, which means that I had to switch around my mana base a little bit as well.

The first deck I played against used Legion Loyalist and every Deathtouch creature imaginable to swing in uncontested. Lucky for me I could outrace him with Champion of Lambholt and my superiorly stronger creatures. In the second two matches I had problems drawing the cards I needed, and Domri Rade really helped speed up the other player’s attack so I lost. My second game against Bant midrange was pretty much the same. I had a great first hand, got out the Champion again, and steamrolled my way to victory, but in the following two games I was overwhelmed by the speed of the deck since it was able to out draw and get superior card advantage on me with cards like Farseek and Sphinx’s Revelation.

The last deck I played was a mono black control deck not unlike Conely Woods’ deck. It runs tons of of removal (especially things that make you sacrifice creatures), and it’s key card is Crypt Ghast. It would speed up the casting of cards like Nicol Bolas (he splashed red and blue for him), make Liliana’s Shade crazy big, and its extort ability could almost always be used when casting a spell. He kept my creatures off the board early and I didn’t stand a chance.

  • 2/16 – HS Osu GPT – 28 people, used GW midrange

Boros aggro, human reanimator, Esper control (lost 1-2. ), RWB midrange (lost 0-2.), Naya aggro x2, junk reanimator (lost 0-2.) Esper control (won 2-0.), Bant control, GR Beatdown, UWR control (lost 0-2. )

TOP 8: Bant control, Boros aggro, Esper control, BR zombies, GR aggro x2, (and two others I didn’t see before the game was over)

I felt like I read the metagame wrong at this Grand Prix Trial and I paid dearly with a 1-4 record. My only win was against an Esper deck that couldn’t wipe the board in time and was overwhelmed with my creatures. The sideboard I was using in my GW midrange deck seemed off too. I really could have used some Oblivion Rings, Pithing needles, and other removal.

Game one against Esper control killed me because I had no answers for his planeswalkers and enchantments but I shouldn’t feel bad because the player ended up making it to the top 8. In my second game I lost to a RWB midrange deck (and its Blood Artist/Blasphemous Act/Boros Reckner combo that did 20+ damage on one turn), and I also lost to a GWB reanimator deck. After my win against another Esper control deck, my final match of the day was against a UWR control deck. Recently Gisela has shown up quite a lot in these sort of decks as a finisher, and she does that very well. By the time she hits the board most creatures have been wiped away by Supreme Verdicts, and any that do survive can’t really attack into her.

I didn’t feel too bad about these results though. I net decked (got my idea from the internet) and didn’t have proper time to test it out and to switch the sideboard around. I just felt that it would do better than my RW human aggro, UG aggro, and UB Zombie mill deck. Now we’ll never know. I did learn how to build my sideboard better after this event though, and just yesterday I went 3-0 and won an 11 person casual event for 2000 yen in store credit. I’d also like to congratulate my friend Keith on becoming the first foreigner in Nagoya to win a Grand Prix trial! My friend Chris also reached the top 8. Keith was using Boros aggro, and Chris used Bant control. Perhaps one of us will win a Grand Prix in Japan one of these days!

  • 2/17 – Big Magic – 26 people – used Simic aggro

BR zombie, Esper control, Bant aggro, Naya aggro (won 2-0.), Bant control (lost 1-2.), Naya midrange (lost 0-2.), junk heartless summoning, BR zombies (won 2-0.), human reanimator (lost 1-2.), Esper control, Naya aggro, Bant control wolf run (WINNER), Bant hex proof (2nd place)

This last Sunday I went with my rebuilt Simic deck and went 2-3. While I didn’t finish in the top 8, the results were promising. I beat a Naya aggro deck by curving out in both games to continuously evolve my creatures. Champion of Lambholt was icing on the cake. I managed to get a lot of pressure on my Bant control opponent, but Detention Spheres and Blind Obedience really messed up my tempo. In hindsight, I wasn’t running any enchantment destruction in my sideboard and I should have had at least one thing. Since then I’ve put in an Acidic Slime and Cyclonic Rifts to deal with permanents I can’t destroy.

Naya midrange ended up being too much for my creatures in the long run, and it was able to ramp into some big creatures really quick. I think this is another match up where having more disruption like Cylonic Rift in the sideboard would be worth it. My biggest win of the day was against BR zombies, which I absolutely dominated. I managed to outrace him in the first game thanks to Strangleroot Geists, Champion of Lambholt, and Master Biomancer, and in the second game a turn 4 Tree of Redemption pretty much guaranteed my win.

I COULD have finished 3-2 with a win against a my final opponent’s human reanimator deck, but getting mana screwed kept me from putting enough pressure on him. Simic Charm was a great way to disrupt the infinite combo, as well as removing an Angel of Glory’s Rise from the game in the process. I added in 2 Grafdigger’s Cage after this event to take care of reanimator match ups.

What Awaits on Game Day?

The metagame is still up for grabs I think. GRW decks have been the most popular, but have been followed closely by GR aggro. Esper (BWU) and Bant (GWU) control have also recently seen an increase in play, so make sure you have a varied sideboard that can deal with each of these decks’ win conditions. Boros aggro, or a variant of Mono red aggro decks might also see some play, and I’m pretty sure Frites will be there in some capacity or another (most likely Human Frites).

I’ll be running the new and improved version of the GW midrange deck that I used at the GPT. Green and White seem to be in a good position right now. There’s tons of life gain if you need it (Thragtusk), removal (Oblivion Ring), big creatures (Angel of Serenity), and cards like Garruk, Primal Hunter are great against control. The mana acceleration from Farseek and mana creatures also make it very good at ramping up to big creatures early on in the game. I think aggro’s time in the sun is over. Midrange is going to make a comeback.

Thanks for reading and good luck at Game Day this weekend!