The Grinding Stone – Cincinnati Open

Welcome to another installment of “The Grinding Stone.”

Your host, Chris VanMeter here, excited to talk with you about Cincinnati this last weekend.

Although I played some of the worst magic I ever have, and did terrible in both the Standard and Legacy events, I definitely have some things to go over in preparation for Seattle.

While getting ready for Cinci I was already set on playing Hive Mind for the legacy event, courtesy of a sweet list from Tom Ma, so I used the majority of my effort on testing for Standard. I was expecting a meta of Valakut, Splinter Twin/Ascension, Caw Blade, U/W control and U/B control. I couldn’t find a deck that I liked against everything, and found that the Mono Red match-up was especially difficult for most decks unless they devoted a lot of sideboard space to it, and even then it wasn’t un-winnable.  Turn 1 Goblin Guide puts you so far ahead on the play a lot of decks are unable to recover.  On the draw, he still does so much damage, it makes all of your other spells more effective.  Here is the list I ended up playing after some consultation with AJ Sacher the night before:

4x Goblin Guide
4x Grim Lavamancer
2x Chandra’s Phoenix
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Staggershock
4x Searing Blaze
4x Incinerate
2x Burst Lightning
4x Shrine of Burning Rage
4x Koth of the Hammer

4x Arid Mesa
4x Scalding Tarn
2x Teetering Peaks
2x Tectonic Edge
12x Mountain

3x Torpor Orb
3x Dismember
3x Act of Aggression
2x Chandra’s Phoenix
4x Vulshok Refugee

This list is a bit different from most, mainly with a full suite of Koth’s and the Phoenix’s in the main. Ember Hauler, while being a good man just isn’t worth it at the moment. The sideboard is also super sweet, which we’ll get to in a moment. Koth is definitely the best thing you can be doing with 4 mana in Red right now. Staggershock and Shrine both give you ton of reach, and multiple times I was able to kill my opponent from 14 with just a Shrine, a Staggershock and any other burn spell. The Phoenix is great in match-ups where you have to grind them out (the mirror, vamps, boros style decks), but underperformed overall. The Torpor Orbs out of the sideboard are just amazing. They just do so much for you in a lot of match-ups. Against Twin you can be super aggressive. Against Valakut they shut off half of their Titans, Avenger, and most importantly Baloth. It is also immune to Manic Vandal.

Sadly the tournament didn’t turn out so well for me. The deck was very good, and had all the tools needed to do well. Unfortunately, the Red Decks don’t mulligan very well and I was plagued with mulligans the last 2 rounds I played. Moving forward, I definitely wouldn’t recommend this deck in the current meta. Tempered Steel is on the rise, which is an atrocious match-up for Red. The Valakut match-up isn’t terribly favorable either, and you can see from the Japanese Nationals it’s definitely making a come-back.

For anyone looking for a deck to play right now, I would recommend Kyle D’s list from the Cinci Top 8 found here:

Talking with Kyle on the ride home we feel that the Legionnaires could become something else, and the Dismembers just aren’t needed.  Tempered Steel is in an interesting spot in the Meta right now.  As we can see from the Japanese Nationals lists all of the Valakut and Green/White decks were ready for Steel.  They all had multiple Creeping Corrosion in their sideboard, yet the deck still won, and placed multiple copies in the top 8.  While Corrosion is very good against you, its not game.  As long as you play with it in mind you will be fine.  You can also play with blue for counters out of your sideboard.  Negate counters all the spells you care about: Creeping Corrosion, Gideon Jura and Day of Judgment.  I will most likely be playing an update to this in Seattle.

The other “big news” from the weekend is that Caw-Blade is far from dead.  Jace, the Mindsculptor.  Stoneforge Mystic.  Who needs em?  Allow us to welcome our new overlords: Blade Splicer and Hero of Bladehold.  Just so you all know, hardcasting your Sword of Feast and Famine is still good.  Even if you aren’t untapping and dropping Jace, untapping and dropping a Hero is still insane.  If you get to swing once with her it’s just over.  Gideon is getting better than ever with the Meta shifting, and 1/1’s for 3 that draw you 3 cards are still good.  With the “mirror match” not revolving around attacking your opponents mana with Tectonic Edge, its stock has decreased.  Running upwards of 4 Inkmoth Nexi is becoming the norm allowing you to get added utility out of your lands if they happen to handle your Hero’s and 2 for 1 and 3 for 1 Splicers and Hawks.

I was quite excited for the Legacy portion of the weekend. I have had quite a bit of success in Legacy and felt like I had a good grasp on the current Meta.  With all of the UW Stoneforge Mystic decks, Merfolk is on a decline.  The Natural Order RUG decks are trying to prey on the Mystic decks, so I decided to play something that I felt was poised very well in a field full of NO RUG and Mystic.  Here’s the Hive Mind list I sleeved up:

4x Hive Mind
4x Show and Tell
4x Intuition
4x Ponder
4x Brainstorm
4x Force of Will
4x Pact of Negation
3x Grim Monolith
3x Pact of the Titans
2x Slaughter Pact
2x Summoner’s Pact
3x Emrakul, the Aeon’s Torn

3x Polluted Delta
2x Flooded Strand
2x Volcanic Island
2x Underground Sea
3x City of Traitors
4x Ancient Tomb
3x Island

4x Leyline of Sanctity
4x Mindbreak Trap
3x Firespout
3x Spell Pierce
1x Slaughter Pact

This is the exact same 75 that Ben Weinburg played and top 8’d with. The deck is very good, and not easy to play. I hadn’t played many decks like this before, and my lack of preparation really showed. I was way too aggressive, and completely mis-valued a lot of cards and interactions. While you CAN kill on turn 2 or 3, most of the time there really is no reason to do so unless you’re 100% sure what you’re playing against cannot stop it. You have a very good set of cards to just sit back and play draw go and let them try to kill you. With 8 “free” counter-spells you can just sculpt the perfect 7 and win. I felt like the Traps really aren’t needed for the Storm match-up and could probably be something else. The Leylines are almost as good against them anyways. I’m still not sure what I will be playing for Legacy in Seattle.  I might just run back the Hive Mind after taking myself to school this week on how to play the deck.  I could always just sleeve up old faithful and play some sort of BUG concoction.  Dark Confidant is still pretty sweet, and I love me some Hymn to Tourach.  It might be correct to play more 1 mana discard spells to help push-through your powerful 2’s.

One of the things I enjoy the most is getting to see and hangout with friends when I travel to these events. There tends to be a lot of story sharing and story creating and this weekend was no different. Early in the tournament AJ happens to lose to a kind gentleman playing Mono Blue Architect. During the match he is explaining to AJ about just how good his deck is and that he is very proud of himself for coming up with the idea. He is very excited about playing and trying to do well with his “rogue deck.” Now these type of things happen quite a bit and usually wouldn’t be cause for mention, except this time Ali Aintrazi was sitting right next to AJ playing his match. Ali casually chimes in here and there with “Oh really?” and “Are you playing Thrumming Bird?” The current pilot has no idea about Ali’s creation of the deck and continues to explain about the synergy between all the cards and exactly how it works. Needless to say, we spent the entire weekend “trolling” this person and having quite a good time.

Here is a bonus list for those of you who enjoyed the old “Naya Allies” deck:

4x Hada Freeblade
4x Akoum Bladesinger
4x Kazandu Blademaster
4x Harabaz Druid
1x Oran-Reif Survivalist
4x Adaptive Automation
4x Phyrexian Metamorph
2x Kabria Evangal
4x Talus Paladin
4x Dismember

4x Razorverge Thicket
4x Copperline Gorge
4x Arid Mesa
3x Stirring Wildwood
1x Raging Ravine
4x Plains
3x Mountain
2x Forest

2x Tuktuk Scrapper
4x Ondu Cleric
2x Kabria Evangal
3x Oblivion Ring
4x Lead the Stampede

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @RichardAmore and you can always contact me via email:



About powerfulwizard

I am a Powerful Wizard who resides in Wichita Ks. I currently play Magic the Gathering and write for!

Posted on July 19, 2011, in Articles, Extras, The Grinding Stone and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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