The Grinding Stone – Seattle Open
Let’s just jump right in it. I needed this weekend. Badly. After not cashing or getting anything greater than the normal 1 point for each event over the last 3 events or so I was getting behind, both financially and in my quest for Level 8 in the Starcitygames.com Open series. I had been playing good decks. I had been doing some amount of testing (definitely not enough), and I felt like I had a good grasp on the Meta. It hasn’t been a “Punt-fest,” but I have played some better Magic in my days. This weekend was exactly what I needed.
Coming into this weekend, I had a solid 3 weeks of grinding/traveling laid out in front of me. Seattle for the open, then Pittsburg for the open, and then Indy for GenCon/Nats. After my abysmal showing in the Invitational, Nagoya, Louisville and Cinci I was definitely questioning my drive. I’ve been given a great opportunity this year and I needed to snap out of the funk I was currently in.
Going into Seattle I was set on Tempered Steel and Hive Mind. I
had a pretty sweet G/W Tempered Steel list that I got from Adam Boyd (who scooped to our other friend Ryan O’Connor in the finals of the OKC PTQ) that you can read the “deck tech” about here.
Here is the list:
4 Glint Hawk Idol
4 Signal Pest
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge
3 Beastmaster Ascension
4 Tempered Steel
3 Mox Opal
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Razorverge Thicket
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Shrine of Loyal Legions
4 Kor Firewalker
3 Act of Aggression
4 Nature’s Claim
I’m not going to go over the deck very much here since most of it is in the “Deck-Tech,” however, I would still recommend this deck to anyone looking for something to play in standard. After starting out 5-0 and 10-0 in games last Saturday, I lost 3 rounds in a row. All 1-2. The first was against Alex Ledbetter playing Valakut, where I bricked for any flyer, Tempered Steel, Dispatch, Act of Aggression for multiple turns. The second was against a kid named Kenji playing Jund where again, I bricked on any Dispatch, flyer, or Tempered Steel.
Although to be fair, I did sideboard incorrectly, and was able to pull out game two after a mistake. My last loss was to a nice guy named Austin playing a U/R Amulet-Eldrazi-Deceiver-Twin deck. I was extremely upset after dropping 2 rounds in a row and played very terrible. I definitely deserved to lose this round because my head and focus were both far from where they needed to be. Alex West scooped to me in the last round with hopes that I could place
in the top 32 at X-3 and get some open points, but sadly none of the X-3’s made top 32. I appreciate the sentiment, and even though it was my first interaction with Alex, the conversation we had about my deck and M12 limited as a format led me to believe he is a great player and a stand-up guy.
Moving forward with Standard I think that the format is becoming even more diverse. You still have Caw-Blade, Tempered Steel, Valakut and U/R Splinter Twin, but there are some new kids on the block. Friends of mine, Greg Peliquin and Joseph Naseef, placed in the Top 8 and Top 16 respectively with the same RUG Twin deck. Utilizing the mana acceleration of Cobra and Explore
to combo quickly. In addition to attacking for a million they can always just cast a very fast Inferno Titan or Consecrated Sphinx, who with their big ole’ booty at 6 live through all the Dismembers that are being played. There is also the Pod decks from the recent Nationals that happened all over the world this weekend. Birthing Pod is a card that I have had on my mind for some time, and this is just showing how good the card can become once you are allowed
to “Tap Out” without the fear of dieing to a mob of Horned Turtles or Mountains bolting you.
In Cinci I played Hive Mind. Well I didn’t exactly “play” it per-se. It was more like stumbling through a dark room that you used to know where everything was but most of it had been moved slightly. You can read about it here in my last article. Fast forward a few days and a bunch of games played with the deck and I was ready. After talking with Tom Ma about the deck we decided that with the popularity the deck is gaining it was time to play Angel’s Grace in the sideboard. The Mindbreak Traps we played the week prior were pretty terrible, and White Leyline was good enough. Here is the list I sleeved up: (note that it is only 5 cards off Ben’s list as we couldn’t find him any Angel’s Grace)
3 Grim Monolith
4 Hive Mind
4 Force of Will
4 Pact of Negation
3 Pact of the Titan
2 Slaughter Pact
2 Summoner’s Pact
3 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
4 Show and Tell
3 Ancient Tomb
3 City of Traitors
2 Flooded Strand
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Polluted Delta
1 Underground Sea
1 Volcanic Island
4 Leyline of Sanctity
3 Angel’s Grace
4 Mental Misstep
1 Slaughter Pact
The Firespouts were still as amazing as ever. I even beat 3 Merfolk decks on the day utilizing Firespout every time. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to use Angel’s Grace as I avoided the Mirror all day. The other change we made was moving to Misstep in the sideboard over the Spell Pierces. Misstep counters most of the spells you worry about post board: REBs and Pyroblasts and Thoughtseizes. I still feel that Hive Mind is the best “Combo Deck” in Legacy and possibly even the “Best Deck” in legacy as well. I forsee a lot of Angel’s Grace and Spellstutter Sprites in the future and we will have to evolve to combat it. I have some sweet tech that I will be playing in Pittsburg and I will be writing about it next week. Here is a quick match synopsis for you from the tournament.
Round 1 – Billy playing Merfolk
Game 1 – I combo on turn 3 with double backup. He only got me to 15.
Game 2 – I combo on turn 5 with double backup. He only got me to 11. He also tried to Echoing Truth my Hive Mind with the Trigger on the stack. doesn’t work that way.
Round 2 – Ricky playing Mono Red Metalworker
Game 1 – I combo him on turn 4. He only got me to 11.
Game 2 – I punt the game by Slaughter Pacting a creature to not die and forgetting we cut the 2nd Underground Sea. I could have blue Pacted it instead and lived, but I was pretty far behind.
Game 3 – I don’t recall any glaring mistakes, but it’s one of those games where you lose and it was so close you feel like you must have made a mistake somewhere.
Round 3 – Austin playing Reanimator
Game 1 – He Exhumes a Jin-Gitaxis on his turn 2 through my Force of WIll (he went first). I had the Show and Tell on my turn 2, but after drawing an extra 7 cards he had another Force of Will.
Game 2 – He mulligans to 4 and has Daze, Force, Blue card for my Turn 2 with single Backup. We play draw go for 2 Turns and I draw into enough fast Mana and a Hivemind to cast it. It resolves, but his 2 draw steps yielded him Daze,Daze so we both got to counter our Pacts. Eventually he Entombs a Stormtide Leviathan and tried to Reanimate it. Hive Mind triggers
and my copy resolves first stealing his 8/8 and he loses shortly after.
Game 3 – Was a very back and forth game where we played draw go for a long time. Early countermagic was used to stop an Entomb, so I eventually just made a 4/4 and started attacking. He was able to get a Stormtide Leviathan into play on 5 life. With just a Slaughter Pact in hand I was able to hardcast a Hive Mind “threatening” the win and making him use a Force of Will on it going to 4. Then I was able to Pact his 8/8, and Force back his last Force of Will and attack for the win.
Round 4 – Nick playing Merfolk
Game 1 – I combo him on turn 4. He got me to 15.
Game 2 – I stabilize with Firespout and eventually sculpt the right hand to kill him on 2 life.
Round 5 – Andrew playing Merfolk
Game 1 – I combo him on turn 5 with double backup on 10 life.
Game 2 – I stabilize with Firespout on 7 life and am able to combo him out. He kept a Vial on 1 telegraphing a Cursecatcher the whole game. When he didn’t respond to the Hive Mind being cast with the Vial, I was able to Pact then respond to his Vial activation with another Pact.
Round 6 – Noel playing Eva Green
Game 1 – I put a 15/15 into play on turn 2.
Game 2 – I turn 0 Leyline of Sanctity which causes him to frown, then I combo him on turn 2.
Round 7 – Ethan playing Bant NO
Game 1 – I combo him on turn 4 with double backup. There was also a but of a mulligan fiasco this game. I won the die roll and elected to play first. I looked at my 7 and announced a mulligan. I pile shuffled my deck presented and looked at my 6. He then asked me if my hand was acceptable, and after I responded with yes he announced that he was going to mulligan. We called a judge who got both sides of the story and ruled that he had passed his opportuinity to mulligan. He wasn’t upset, just a bit sad since his hand had no
interaction for the Hive Mind match.
Game 2 – I combo him on turn 5 with double backup. He shows me that he boarded in Angel’s Grace but didn’t draw it. I assumed he did so I kept in 2 Emrakuls.
Round 8 – Adam W playing Dredge
Game 1 – I have a turn 2 Emrakul, but he rips my hand apart with double Therapy combined with a 1 drop.
Game 2 – I turn 0 Leyline and eventually combo him out after a lot of terrible Dredges. While getting ready to play game 3 we realize that all of the other X-1 matches are done and that we can just draw into the Top 8 rather than one of us get knocked out and an x-2 make it.
Quaterfinals – Alex with NO RUG
Coverage is here.
Semifinals – Sean Ryan with NO RUG
Coverage is here.
Note: In game 1 where I Pact to block his Goyf, I was putting him on Bolt. If I just take the damage and go to 1 I win the following turn. By pacting and blocking I forced myself to draw a land to win, where the odds of him having Bolt are probably less than the odds of me drawing a land.
So there we have it. Now I am sitting at 88 points and need 12 more to hit level 7. Hopefully I can level up in Pittsburg. I fly out on Thursday to Harrisburg to spend the day with AJ and we’ll be training it into Pittsburg on Friday. If anyone will be in Pittsburg for the open, feel free to say hi and introduce yourself. As always, you can reach me through email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Chris_VanMeter.