Born of the Gods Game Day: Bruised Black and Blue

It’s been a busy week here in Nagoya. After Pro Tour Born of the Gods, many players made a dash to the stores to buy some modern staples before they shot up in value. Some were lucky (I bought a Cryptic Command for $35 and an Ensnaring Bridge for $10), and others weren’t so lucky (Snapcaster Mages were about $19 2-3 weeks ago and have already shot up to $30-$35 around town). There have been quite a few MTG journalists saying that 2014 is going to be the turning point for the Modern format. From mid-March to mid-June, players will be playing Theros/Born of the Gods sealed to fight for a spot on the Pro-Tour, but come late June, Modern becomes the name of the game. Pro Tour qualifiers will be modern. Grand Prix Trials for GP Kobe will be modern, and of course the Grand Prix Kobe itself will be Modern in August. The format is looking to explode here in Japan, and that means that prices are only going to get higher. I’ll talk about this a little bit more later in my next “Modern Times” article next week.

Speaking of Pro Tour Qualifiers, for those of you living near the Tokai area in Japan (or are willing to travel here), there are going to be 2 PTQs in the next month.

  • March 22nd – For any of you that are confident enough in your sealed skills, or for those that would just like to grind out a lot of Planeswalker Points, Big Magic is Sponsoring a PTQ on March 22nd at Higashi Betusin kaikan. The kaikan is a 4 minute walk from exit 4 of Higashi Betsuin station, 1 stop away from Kanayama station on the JR line. Once you come out on street level, cross the street and walk to the 3 story building behind the TV station. You can reach Kanayama by express train coming from Shizuoka, the Chou line coming from Nagano, or the Tokaido line coming from Gifu. You can also reach Kanayama from Mie or Kyoto prefecture if you take the Kintetsu or JR line to Nagoya then transfer. It’s the same place as the previous PTQ, on the second floor and in the big room. If you need more directions, ask.The format is Theros/BNG sealed, and you can sign up for the event at Big Magic up until a week before. They are planning for 200+ people, so if you can’t make it to Big Magic before that deadline, don’t despair. If you will be in town before the deadline and register ahead of time, you have to pay the whole cost of the event, 4000 yen. On the day of the event, the price will be 5000 yen, so it’s in your best interest to reserve a spot early if you’re serious about it. Plenty of spots are still available, but I will keep my eye on the list just in case. You CAN’T register over the phone.
  • April 5th – I just found out about this one, but Master’s Guild of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka will be sponsoring another PTQ on April 5th. I’m still in the process of collecting information, but I’m going to guess that you can only register at the store in Hamamatsu, and that the cost will probably be around 5000 yen since it will be sealed format. I don’t know how many people can sign up, but when I find out I’ll late you know. The location of the event is near downtown Hamamatsu, close to Enshubyoin station (2 stops from Shin Hamamatsu station on the Entetsu line). You can get to Hamamatsu by taking the Tokaido Shinkansen, or local trains from Toyohashi (Aichi) or Shizuoka City.

Game Day

Game Day for Born of the Gods was this weekend, and these types of events are always split into two groups of people. First you have your serious players that are fighting for that Champion playmat and Top 8 promo, and on the other hand you have people that are just going there for fun. A large amount of players from my MTG group in Nagoya converged on Amenity Dream in Nagoya on Sunday for the event, and while most were shooting for the top 8, there were a few there just for fun. I convinced one of my friends to play my Maze’s End deck ^_^, and the reactions he got from his opponents were priceless.

I was playing R/b devotion and I had high hopes going into Game Days on both Saturday (16 people) and Sunday (26 people), but lack of practice with the deck led me to 2-2 records on both days. On the first day, I lost to BW midrange, beat Bant midrange, lost to GR monsters, then beat RW burn. On the second day, I lost to Mono black, beat mono blue devotion, beat GR/b monsters, and then lost to U/w devotion.  The winner on day one was a U/w devotion deck, and on the second day, BW control took home the playmat. Overall, there were quite a few black decks, but GR monsters and blue devotion weren’t far behind either.  

As you know, red devotion is an insane strategy. With the right hands, you can finish the game by turn 4 or put it hopelessly out of reach for your opponent. By adding black into the deck, I was planning on strengthening my previously weak match ups against mono blue and Control, but I felt like I became overzealous with my strategy. I played Rakdos’s Return and Hero’s Downfall in my main board, which gave me problems with consistency on both days. The deck needs consistency, especially in the first game, so I’m taking the deck back to its roots in my newest version. 

R/b Devotion
75 cards, 15 sideboard
2 Rakdos Guildgate
10 Mountain
4 Blood Crypt
4 Temple of Malice
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

24 lands

2 Purphoros, God of the Forge
4 Ash Zealot
4 Stormbreath Dragon
4 Fanatic of Mogis
4 Frostburn Weird
4 Boros Reckoner
4 Burning-Tree Emissary

26 creatures

1 Chandra, Pyromaster
2 Hammer of Purphoros
4 Dreadbore
3 Mizzium Mortars

10 other spells

4 Thoughtseize
2 Rakdos’s Return
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
2 Ultimate Price
1 Whip of Erebos
2 Doom Blade
3 Anger of the Gods

15 sideboard cards

This is Red devotion in its purest form. It’s ALL red, except for the Dreadbores (which replaced Chained to the Rocks from the white version). Any red devotion deck running anything over than the red cards in this main deck are just asking to lose. These cards absolutely MUST be in the deck. The sideboard is where it gets more interesting. This past weekend I had problems against U/w devotion and mono black, so I filled the sideboard up with cards that will help me in those match ups. I was against Thoughtseize originally, using Duress instead, but against mono black or BW midrange, I definitely want it from now on. Rakdos’s Return also belongs in the sideboard. It’s what you want against control decks, and maybe against mono black, but that’s about it. It is not good in the mainboard against decks like Mono blue devotion or Orzhov aggro. Chandra is in there for control, mono black, and white weenie match ups, and Anger of Gods is in there for various aggro opponents. Against control and mono black, (or any match up when you play Thoughtseize), I would play Whip of Erebos. Your cards are going to go in the graveyard before you can finish off your opponent, and not only does the Whip give you another chance to bomb your opponent with a Fanatic of Mogis or Stormbreath Dragon, but it also gives you desperately needed life gain so you don’t lose to a Gray Merchant of Asphodel or a Aetherling. With the potential life loss from Thoughtseize, this is worth playing I think. Ultimate Price and Doom Blade are cards I would definitely play in aggro match ups as well. 

Here’s what the sideboarding would look like for this new build. 

  • Mono black devotion = +4 Thoughtseize, +1 Whip of Erebos, +1 Chandra, Pyromaster / -3 Mizzium Mortars, -1 Stormbreath Dragon, -1 Boros Reckoner, -1 Dreadbore
  • Mono blue devotion = +3 Anger of the Gods, +2 Ultimate Price, +2 Doomblade / -2 Hammer of Purphoros, -1 Chandra, Pyromaster, -4 Ash Zealot
  • UW/Esper control = +4 Thoughtseize, +1 Whip of Erebos, +1 Chandra, Pyromaster, +2 Rakdos’s Return / -3 Mizzium Mortars, -2 Dreadbore, -2 Boros Reckoner, -1 Ash Zealot
  • W/x aggro = +3 Anger of the Gods, +2 Doomblade or Ultimate Price (depends on the deck), + 1 Whip of Erebos / -2 Hammer of Purphoros, -2 Purphoros, God of the Forge, -2 Fanatic of Mogis
  • GR monsters = +2 Ultimate Price, +2 Doom Blade / -2 Hammer of Purphoros, -2 Ash Zealot
  • BW midrange = +4 Thoughtseize, +1 Whip of Erebos / -1 Stormbreath Dragon, -1 Dreadbore, -1 Boros Reckoner, -1 Ash Zealot, -1 Mizzium Mortars

With this plan in place, I think the deck will perform a lot better. It’s only my second week using the deck, but I still have faith in it. I won’t be kept down for long. 

Just for Fun

I’ve shown you quite a few tier 1 and tier 2 decks that I’ve brewed over the last few weeks, but I haven’t shown you a deck that’s just about having fun. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you Grixis Inspire.

Grixis – Inspire The Next
75 cards, 15 sideboard
3 Swamp
2 Temple of Malice
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Blood Crypt
4 Island
4 Steam Vents
3 Mountain

24 lands

4 Pain Seer
4 Desecration Demon
4 Felhide Spiritbinder
4 Satyr Nyx-Smith

16 creatures

4 Devour Flesh
2 Ultimate Price
3 Retraction Helix
2 Springleaf Drum
4 Hidden Strings
3 Ral Zarek2 Jace, Architect of Thought

20 other spells

2 Anger of the Gods
3 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
4 Thoughtseize
4 Triton Tactics
2 Negate

15 sideboard cards

I had originally tried to build an Izzet colored inspire deck, but it just felt awfully slow. Not to be discouraged, I decided it might be worth splashing black for a few cards. What I came up with can only be described as something a mad scientist would do. I took the best creatures with Inspire and then built the deck around them, adding in as many ways as I could to activate their special abilities. If you need a card, tap Pain Seer, if you need some extra bodies, tap the Nyx-Smith, and if you just need a giant body to attack, copy a Desecration Demon with Spiritbinder. The deck uses a lot of tap effects in order to do this: Springleaf Drum, Hidden Strings, Retraction Helix, and card that was born for this deck – Ral Zarek. If you can get either him or the Springleaf Drum to stick, you should have no problem enabling your Inspire triggers.

I probably could have gone bigger with some bigger spells in this deck, but due to using Pain Seer I didn’t want to take too much damage from drawing a card (there are 13 4-mana casting cost cards). However, I think the synergy between the cards is great. I personally love Desecration Demon in this deck. Your opponent can sacrifice a creature so he doesn’t attack, but you have a variety of ways to untap him afterwards such as with Ral Zarek or Hidden Strings. Post sideboard, Triton Tactics makes him absolutely silly against aggro decks. I originally was focusing more on tap effects in my first build, but my friends strongly suggested I use removal in this deck, so I decided on Devour Flesh and Ultimate Price. Devour Flesh works for you as well. If your life gets too low, you can always sacrifice a Demon for some quick life gain. I think Jace, Architect of Thought is also needed in this deck. This is a midrange deck so aggro decks are going to hurt it until you can get the combos going and build up a good defense.

For the sideboard, Anger of the Gods is a great card against aggro (you’re biggest nemesis), Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver is good against control but also against creature heavy decks like GR monsters. I might also play him against mono black to greatly reduce their ability to attack and build up devotion. Thoughtseize is another card that’s great in control match ups, and Triton Tactics lets you be aggressive against midrange and aggro decks while also activating your Inpsire triggers. Negate is another card that I think deserves a sideboard spot, because you need to be able to counter Planeswalker spells and enchantments against control. I don’t think this deck will be competitive, but it should be a lot of fun to play. If you try it out and have more suggestions on how to improve it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Coming Soon 

With a month and a half before Grand Prix Nagoya, I will be focusing more on BNG/THS limited in my upcoming articles. I’ve also been testing my modern decks and will have some updates on the metagame here in Nagoya as well, so you can expect a lot more variety of articles this Spring and Summer. I will have some updates about The Cardboard Samurai in the near future too, and I would like to point out that there is now a tab at the top of the website so that you can look at information about our Japan based competitive MTG group any time you want. 

Before I sign off for today, I’d also like to hear about your Game Day experiences. What did you use? What was the metagame like? How many people showed up? Please feel free to talk about it down below. Thanks again for reading, and sorry for the delay in posting. Work is finally starting to slow down so I’ll have more time to write content come late March and early April. Until next time . . .