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(Almost) Getting There With Scion of Vitu-Ghazi – Open Top 4

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Welcome Brew Crew. First some introductions, my name is Ryan Archer and I am a member of Team RIW. I’ve been playing Magic for a long time, but recently focused on my goal of making the Pro Tour. When Dragon’s Maze was released, it introduced some of my favorite Standard cards: Advent of the Wurm and Voice of Resurgence. I really liked the power level of both of these cards and was surprised that no one was as excited about them as I was. I began my journey towards creating the deck that I am now playing GW Aggro.

voice

Why Brainstorm Brewery? Well, probably like most of you reading this, I am also interested in MTG Finance. I have been working for RIW Hobbies for almost ten years now and as such, have seen the cyclical rising and falling of Standard card prices, the slow rise of eternal-playable card prices, and the crazy spikes from EDH cards. I have always been involved in MTG finance but it wasn’t until I tuned into the Brainstorm Brewery podcast that the fire was ignited. I have been making money on Magic more now than ever, and I have these guys to thank.

I read Scion of Vitu-Ghazi and I immediately thought the guy was the Nutter Butters. I thought to myself, “I am going to go deep on this guy and am going to make a lot of money.” I got in cheap enough that even if it didn’t hit big I wouldn’t lose much. No one was playing it, so I decided I would brew a deck that did and then surely the price would go up. All I would have to do is win a few events, with a deck that no one’s seen, playing a card no one thought was good, and that would be enough. Well, I accomplished the first part but the price on Scion still hasn’t budged. It’s time to keep trying.

Why should you care about what I have to say about this GW Deck? On several occasions I have been called the GW master (I said it about myself – still counts). I also have been tearing up the Constructed scene here in Michigan. I won the Professional Events Services-sponsored Michigan states tournament. I also came in second and third at the Michigan TCG states one week later.

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That’s right, I got to be state champion for a whole week. With all the states tournaments next year we should take all the winners and make them play out a top eight to see who the real state champion is. Most recently, I took the GW deck to a third-place finish at the SCG Open in Indy.
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All right, enough of the sick brags (though making second and third at the same tournament kind of warrants them). It’s time for the real reason you’re here. Let’s discuss the deck list I played at the Open.

I primarily expected a lot of Mono Black, Mono Blue, and Esper Control decks. This GW deck has a pretty good game against Mono Black and Esper, along with any aggro or midrange deck that don’t play Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Mono Blue is an okay matchup but if they ever play Master of Waves, you cannot win. Also, Thassa, God of the Sea is a huge beating to play against.

For this article, I don’t want to do a tournament report. Because the deck is fairly unknown, I feel it is better to go over the card choices and explain the numbers and why certain cards made the cut.

I was fortunate enough not to have to play against Mono Blue all day. I had a bit of bad luck in some of the matches I lost, but that’s Magic. It’s very difficult to not run into bad luck when you play twelve matches.

Onto the card choices:

4 Experiment One

Against certain decks it’s very important to put a lot of pressure on them from the beginning. Experiment One does a good job at attacking early while still growing and being relevant in the late game. His regenerate ability is especially good against removal from Mono Black and Supreme Verdict because you have no shortage of creatures to start growing him again.

3 Fleecemane Lion

Like I said, early pressure is important and the lion has decent stats. I think his monstrosity ability is just okay, because he either gets outclassed by larger monsters, or their decks have sacrifice cards like Far // Away or Devour Flesh. He also doesn’t match up well against Blood Baron of Vizkopa.

4 Voice of Resurgence

I don’t know what else to tell you about this card you haven’t heard already. It is awesome. Good against every deck. Some of the removal in this format targets attacking creatures, which can be very awkward when staring down a Voice. The token gets huge and can be populated. Do not sideboard this card out.

2 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage

LOL wut? Don’t laugh, this card is great. It can break open midrange mirrors by populating two wurms a turn. It is also a good top deck against Mono Black or Esper when they have spent all their resources to kill your team and you’re both low on cards. Play this and kill them with an army of centaurs. Guildmage is better later in the game so only two are necessary.

4 Loxodon Smiters

I’ve seen some recent lists move away from this guy but I don’t understand why. A 4/4 for three is great. Sometimes your blue opponent will pass the turn with mana up hoping to counter your spell and you play this guy. Frown town for your opponent. He smashes in for a lot and is a great blocker against the aggro decks. I have yet to make my opponent target him with a Thoughtseize but I’m going to keep trying.

4 Boon Satyr

Alright! The card I was most excited about from Theros. This card has been an all-star. It has flash against Esper decks. It makes combat math a nightmare for your midrange opponent. You have not lived until you bestow Boon Satyr onto your wurm token. There’s one more trick but I’m saving it to mention with Scion.

1 Banisher Priest

I have to admit I don’t love this guy, but he does fill a role. That role? Kill Master of Waves. Sure, he can do other things, like make your opponents waste their removal on him. But you really need to kill the blue menace. I made space for one in the main to help out the Mono Blue match (he can also eat a devoted Thassa). He wasn’t bad in the GR matchup either, so there is that. I would not play more in the main because he is so bad against Esper.

4 Advent of the Wurm

If I have to explain to you why a 5/5, for four mana, at instant speed, that has trample, should be in your GW deck, you’re playing the wrong game. I would rather populate the wurm than an elemental in most cases, just to let you know. Also of note, he is only green which means he wins fights with Blood Baron.

1 Polukranos, World Eater

Come on, this guy eats worlds, how could you not love him? He passes the Blood Baron test and also kills Master of Waves. Basically a 5/5 for four in this deck but he earns his keep.

3 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi

Oh boy, strap yourself in. I have a lot to say about this guy. But first, a short story of the time I met Ryan Bushard:

It’s July 2013. M14 just came out. I’m playing in the SCG Classic in Lansing. I’m playing a pre-rotation version of the GW deck. Basically the same deck, because not much rotated. Round four, I play against someone whose friend is next to him wearing a Brainstorm Brewery Shirt. I tell him I like that podcast and he says Ryan is here if you want to meet him. I say naw, trying not to seem too eager. I finish the tournament in the top eight but before it’s announced I run into the same guy who is with Ryan. I shake Ryan’s hand and explain that I really like the show and that it got me into speculating. He asks what cards I’m looking at and I explain that I went deep on Scion of Vitu-Ghazi. He smiles and explains to me that the card could be a good choice because the casual crowd could like it one day. He is obviously trying to be nice, but I can tell he doesn’t approve. I smile and explain that I just made top eight with three copies in the main deck. He stares at me blankly before smiling and congratulating me. Later on, Ryan Tweeted “just bought 174 Scion of Vitu-Ghazi #mistake?” I laughed to myself reading it, and on the next Brainstorm Brewery podcast Jason’s pick of the week was Advent of the Wurm and Ryan’s was Scion of Vitu-Ghazi. Just wanted to let you know, Ryan, that I am still working on making this a profitable spec.

Okay, back to Scion. Let me first explain why the other choices for five drops are bad. The answer is: all the one-for-one removal that is getting played right now. Both Kalonian Hydra and Archangel of Thune do nothing when immediately targeted by a Doom Blade. I need a little more resistance from my five drop.

So Scion, with nothing on the board, is a five-mana 4/4 that makes two birds. That’s six power for five mana spread across three bodies and two of those bodies have evasion. When they Doom Blade, you’re still left with two guys. Some sweet plays that Scion enables:

  • Against midrange decks you can live the dream and cast turn-four Advent, untap, cast turn-five Scion. That’s fifteen power when you had none. Their one-for-one removal is not so good now, huh?
  • That same play is also good enough to seal away most games against aggro decks.
  • The three creatures power up an elemental token from out of nowhere and Scion can make more elementals.
  • The birds are great creatures to feed to a Desecration Demon.
  • The birds can fly over a stalled ground board state.
  • The birds are really good at attacking planeswalkers.
  • The birds can be suited up with Boon Satyr to take huge chunks out of your opponents life (or planeswalkers).
  • Your opponent can’t play an Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and -3 to kill all your creatures because the birds survive and kill Elspeth.
  • The birds can block your opponents flying creatures.
  • The birds can fly over Blood Baron.
bird

Caw!

I’m making a case for the birds because if you ever populate something bigger you’re probably winning already and you don’t need me to tell you that’s good. By the way, all of these situations have happened to me while playing, and yes, they did feel great.

4 Selesnya Charm

This charm does everything. Sometimes it’s an early attacker that can be populated. Sometimes it’s a combat trick that your opponent must respect (which can allow you to get some free attacks in). Most of the time it’s a removal spell for the cards you can’t deal with, the big ones. I’ve removed huge Revenant Hunters, Polukranos, World Eater in response to monstrosity, Desecration Demons, and it’s also a great answer to the gods.

2 Rootborn Defenses

A nice answer to removal, but mostly just there to beat Supreme Verdict. If you can save your team from a Verdict and make your opponent waste his turn you have probably already won. I do sometimes cast it just to make a wurm.

This article has already gone long, so in my next article I will cover the sideboard and any changes I would make to the deck. In Constructed Magic, formats are constantly shifting so you should be adapting your deck to beat what decks you expect. Just be sure to not change so much that your deck is not accomplishing its original goals.

Please let me know what you think in the comments and make suggestions of any future topic you would like me to cover. I’m a tournament player first and a financier second, so I can discuss a wide range of decks across multiple formats. I like the idea of reviewing some format or deck and then giving feelings on the financial opportunities from a tournament player’s perspective. Let me know if that’s something that interests you. Thanks for reading.

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Ryan Archer

@RyanArcherMTG     -     Email     -     Articles
Ryan Archer is a PTQ Grinder and a Magic Financier. When he's not making top eight in a tournament or looking for the next magic card to spike, he's playtesting as a member of Team RIW or writing articles for BrainstormBrewery.com or MTGinfosource.com

About the author

Ryan Archer

@RyanArcherMTG     -     Email     -     Articles
Ryan Archer is a PTQ Grinder and a Magic Financier. When he's not making top eight in a tournament or looking for the next magic card to spike, he's playtesting as a member of Team RIW or writing articles for BrainstormBrewery.com or MTGinfosource.com

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  1. geri

    Great article

  2. hivemind

    Talk about the zero Trostani decision?

  3. Chris

    Need… follow up… Voice of Resurgence is on the fall, thinking about going in on it for this deck.

  4. Patrick K

    Hey Ryan,
    I am heading to GPABQ and was curious if you had any updates on your decklist. I am expecting a lot of mono blue so I am uping the Banisher Priest count to 4 in the 75. I haven’t gotten a ton of testing in but just was wondering if you had any advice on the deck. Thanks!

    1. Ryan Archer

      My advice would be to remember to try to keep a fast start. When you apply a lot of pressure early, the Mono Blue deck has to start playing defense and is not so synergetic. I mentioned in my latest article but public enemy is Master of Waves. You can beat almost everything else fairly easily. If you expect a lot of Mono Blue upping the number of Banisher Priests is a good start. You can also play more Last Breaths which are also good against aggro and are ok against some other decks if you decide to put them in the main. Remember that Polukranos can deal with Master. You also probably want the Brave the Elements to break through if they clog the board. Lastly, don’t forget to play around Cyclonic Rift which is particularly effective against any tokens you’ve been building.

      After testing all the changes you should make sure that your deck is still ok against the other decks. Sometimes when building to beat a particular deck we get weaker against others. For example adding four Banisher Priests in the Main instead of just the 75 would make us much weaker to Esper and other Control. I would suggest only modifying the maindeck slightly and adding more cards to the board.

      Thanks for the comment and good luck at the GP.

  5. dibs84

    Hey man, loved your take on the Scion.

    I’ve been playing G/W aggro ever since i came back to MTG (quite around stronghold) and started with Theros/standard.
    I really was trying to find a way to get an extra threat in this deck, and the scion fills it perfectly.

    Last week i went 5-0 in a standard tourney here in the netherlands, granted it was around 25people, it still felt good flying over an army of elspeth tokens with 2 birds satyr’d up.

    Thanks for the enjoyable and informative article!

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