B/g Midrange Tournament Report – Benjamin Sullivan

This is the first in what promises to be a series of submissions from Reddit’s r/spikes community. We’re excited to host the reports on our site and expose this work to a larger audience. There are a lot of up-and-comers in the reddit spikes community and we’re proud to feature them here on Brainstorm Brewery. Enjoy! – Jason

 

Hello, Brainstorm Brewery readers! My name is Benjamin Sullivan and my reddit username is /u/BenEBeats. This is my first foray into actually sitting down and writing out my thoughts about MtG, much less writing an actual article for people to read. My Magic career has been one of competitive mediocrity. An 80 person IQ top 8, a 4-4 drop SCG Open, and my best finish was 28th out of 250 people. Going into any larger tournament I can depend on not being the most skilled player in the room. I know that I need to play tight, to my outs, and I need to have those outs show up more often than not if I am to do well. Knowing all this I wanted to go into the [TCG Player] 5k [in Fort Worth]  to improve, to focus on my play and to keep it tight all day even if I went 0-X I wanted to know what my mistakes were and how I could not make those mistakes again.

I’m sure that B/g has been beaten to death and the list has been hammered out and discussed by many people. Still, a few of the minor things that may stand out is the lack of [card]Devour Flesh[/card] in my 75. In testing for the tournament, Devour flesh was the worst 2 cmc removal in the list. It usually just picked off [card]Sylvan Caryatids[/card] instead of its main target, [card]Blood Baron of Vizkopa[/card]. The decks that run Braon now also run 4 Sylvan Caryatid making Devour Flesh a poor way to deal with the Baron. When Esper and Orzhov control ran Baron in the sideboard as tech against Mono-B Devotion it was much better, but now that the meta has shifted to Junk and Jund, it is dead with a Caryatid on board. I still needed a way to deal with Blood Baron, so I dropped the playset of [card]Nightveil Specter[/card]s and sleeved up [card]Lifebane Zombie[/card]s and made all of my removal targeted to deal with a wider range of threats. The addition of Zombie gave me a way to deal with a drawn Blood Baron before turn 4-5 if [card]Thoughtseize[/card] misses. I was more comfortable with this list and it performed much better than the configuration with 4 Nightveil Specter and 2 Devour Flesh.

I tested against all the major decks in the meta, including Mono-U, the mirror with the Green, White, and no splash, U/W/x, Jund, Sligh, Burn, and Junk. The U/W/x matchup was the only matchup I had trouble with and I completely missed playing against the Planar Cleansing list, but I trusted the list enough to be able to muddle through and pull out some wins.

After all that explanation here’s the list I ended up piloting:

[deck title= B/g Midrange]
[Creatures]
4 Pack Rat
4 Lifebane Zombie
4 Desecration Demon
4 Grey Merchant of Asphodel
[/Creatures]

[Spells]
4 Thoughtseize
3 Abrupt Decay
2 Bile Blight
2 Ultimate Price
4 Hero’s Downfall
4 Underworld Connections
[/Spells]

[Land]
12 Swamp
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Temple of Malady
1 Golgari Guildgate
4 Mutavault
[/Land]

[Sideboard]
4 Duress
3 Pharika’s Cure
1 Abrupt Decay
2 Doom blade
2 Drown in Sorrow
2 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Whip of Erebos
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Round 1 vs Esper Control (0-0)

We sit down and introduce ourselves and he goes first, playing a Temple of Enlightenment and I start hoping he’s on U/w or W/u aggro. On my turn I ‘Seize him to see [card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/card], [card]Aetherling[/card], [card]Banishing Light[/card], and [card]Dissolve[/card]. With [card]Mutavault[/card] and [card[Pack Rat[/card] in hand I take the [card]Banishing Light[/card] to try and put some pressure on him underneath his Dissolve. I put some early pressure on him and resolve some threats after he deals with mine. I draw him out with a resolved Underworld Connections and he never manages to find a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] to draw into more gas. I end the game after I attack with my Mutavault a few times, and Downfall the Aetherling he played on his last turn to blink it and take him to 0. Game 2 plays out the same way except Erebos gets in through 3 Banishing Lights that are taken care of with Abrupt Decay. I resolve two Underworld Connections to keep Erebos on line long enough to beat him down to 0.

In

4 Duress
2 Erebos
1 Whip
1 Abrupt Decay

Out

2 Bile Blight
2 Ultimate Price
2 Pack Rat
2 Grey Merchant

Round 2 vs Junk Midrange (1-0)

I [card]Thoughtseize[/card] turn one to see a Hero’s Downfall, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, [card]Courser of Kruphix[/card], [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] and a [card]Reaper of the Wilds[/card]. I take the Baron, and then draw nothing really relevant the rest of the game after my only threat dies to the Downfall. Game 2 I Thoughtseize him take his Reaper, his only creature, leaving him a grip full of removal. I jam threat after threat, beat him down and resolve a Grey Merchant to take him to zero. Game 3 presented me with the most interesting Thoughtseize decision of the day when I Thoughtseize into a hand of Sin Collector, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Reaper of the Wilds, and a Hero’s Downfall. I take his Sin Collector. With a Lifebane Zombie and a Downfall in hand I decide the best line of play is to take his Sin Collector, get the BBoV with Lifebane and force him to play Reaper before he has enough mana to play and protect it. I jump on that plan and it turns out to be the correct play and I take Game 3.

In

2 Doomblade
1 Whip

Out

1 Abrupt Decay
2 Bile Blight

Round 3 vs Burn (2-0)

He mulls down to 5 and I Thoughtseize him turn 1 to see [card]Young Pyromancer[/card], [card]Chain to the Rocks[/card], [card]Skullcrack[/card], and [card]Magma Jet[/card]. I take the jet and only take 2 damage the entire game. Game 2, I [card]Duress[/card] him and take Skullcrack, and [card]Pharika’s Cure[/card] on my turn the Young Pyro he plays on his. Grey Merchants and Cures get there and I finish him with Merchant beats.

In

3 Pharika’s Cures
4 Duress
1 Whip

Out

4 Lifebane Zombie
2 Pack Rat
2 Underworld Connections

Round 4 vs Mono-B (3-0)

Game 1, I Thoughtseize and kill everything he plays, Merchant for 4 and just beat him to death with Pack Rats. Game 2 he beats me with Demon and Nightveils as I can’t stick anything for long enough to stop the Demon from turning sideways into my life total. Game 3 is long and grindy. I stick a Pack Rat late enough to dodge Bile Blight and then play around it. I rip a Bile Blight late in the game to take care of the 2 Nightveils he has on board and swing into him for game.

In

1 Abrupt Decay
2 Erebos
1 Whip

Out

4 Lifebane Zombie

Round 5 vs Gruul Monsters (4-0)

I’m actually more comfortable against the Jund version of this deck, because it’s a little slower than the G/R version, and it showed here. He kills me quickly Game 1 and Game 2. [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card] is one of the hardest threats for me to deal with Game 1 and he killed me with it by tapping my Demon down with Xenagos tokens and then Flesh/Blooding a [card]Polukranos, World Eater[/card] to my face. Game 2 was much more explosive from his side of the table after I kept a sketchy but keepable hand of Lifebane into Demon. He drops his green creatures before I can Lifebane them and beats me to death the same way he did Game 1 and I fold. The G/R version of Monsters is much more explosive and if you stumble on removal it punishes you dearly. Going forward, Ghor-Clan needs to be dealt with easier. A 4cmc multi-colored beater is only answered by 4 pieces of removal main board and 6 post board does not seem to be enough.

In

2 Doom Blade

Out

2 Bile Blight

Round 6 vs Jund Monsters (4-1)

This is the Monsters list I am most comfortable with. Game 1 he gets an explosive hand and takes me to 8 with a [card]Stormbreath Dragon[/card] then shows me the second dragon on his turn and I scoop. This game played out much differently. I Thoughtseize him, take his only threat, and play creatures into his removal until I can finally make a Pack Rat stick. After a few turns of Pack Rat beats, it was onto Game 3. Game 3 is another grinder and I ping him for 1 with the loneliest Pack Rat for a few turns as he kills any copies and then finish him with a Merchant plus Rat beats when he draws into no threats that I can’t deal with.

In

2 Doom Blade

Out

2 Bile Blight

Round 7 vs Mono-B (5-1)

Game 1, I’m in the driver’s seat as I kill 2 [card]Desecration Demon[/card]s while keeping mine on the table. It was uneventful with no one playing a Thoughtseize. Game 2 we trade kill spells for dudes until he stabilizes with back-to-back top-decked Gray Merchants and then a Nightveil swing to finish me off. Game 3 is a nail-biter that comes down to the last two turns of time. We have a stalled board with several rats on each side of the board. His rats have triple Mutavault backups to my one. On his last turn, he has lethal with 2 rats a merchant and an online Erebos versus my two rats Merchant and Erebos. I have a Bile Blight to deal with his Mutavaults and swamp in hand to make another rat to survive. He thinks for a while, mans up his Mutavaults and swings in for lethal. I Bile Blight his vaults, make a rat to block Erebos and survive with apparent lethal damage on board. He has one card in hand and 2 swamps open. Here’s where my mistakes for the day begin: at the end of his turn I draw a card with Connections to draw into a Thoughtseize, but I miss my draw for turn. I fire off a precombat Thoughtseize to play around a Bile Blight or any other shenanigans he may blow me out with. He shows me Connections and I swing in for the match.

This game I should have first off drawn for turn and kept the Thoughtseize in hand to still play around Bile Blight and still deliver lethal, instead of firing it off and manning up my Mutavault in response, which was my original plan. Nerves were affecting me and it was a detriment to my play. Even though it didn’t cost me the match it was still disappointing.

In

2 Doom Blade

Out

2 Bile Blight

Round 8 vs Planar Cleansing U/W (6-1)

This is my win and in and my lack of play testing against this deck becomes painfully apparent. He wins Game 1 and I sideboard like I would if he was playing a full suite of [card]Detention Sphere[/card]s and Banishing Lights. I bring in Erebos the Whip and the last Abrupt Decay. He is playing none of the 3CMC enchantments and my Decays are completely dead. Luckily, Game 2 I open a hand of Temple of Malady, Mutavault, 3 Duress, and 2 Lifebane Zombies. I Temple, pass, draw into a Swamp and double Duress and then begin to beat him turn 4 with Lifebane + Mutavault. He draws pretty much only lands and can’t do anything relevant and he dies to Zombie beats. Game 3 my board plan kills me. I draw 3 Decays this game and the lack of action ends my top 8 run. He [card]Planar Cleansing[/card]s and [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]s all of my threats away and I roll over and die to Aetherling.

In

1 Abrupt Decay
2 Erebos
1 Whip of Erebos

Out

2 Bile Blight
2 Ultimate Price

Round 9 vs Naya Tokens (6-2)

I have never played nor tested this matchup, and it showed. He plays [card]Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice[/card] and the combination of Voice tokens and Trostani kills me putting me to 6-3 for the day.

In

2 Doom Blade

Out

2 Ultimate Price

Overall, I played well for most of the day. The deck is extremely powerful and ran very well. The green splash is awesome and I was never disappointed to have Abrupt Decay except when I boarded poorly. Going forward I need to play test more thoroughly. Drown in Sorrow was never brought in and I think that Sligh plans were hated out by over-preparation. Those slots should have been [card]Golgari Charm[/card]s. The versatility provided by the Charms would have been much better than Drown in Sorrow.

I can see the improvement in my play. I’m getting better at playing to my outs, understanding tempo and dealing with unfavorable board states. I’m disappointed in my play in the last rounds of the tournament, but next time I know to be better prepared. If you have any comments or questions about the list or lines of play, let me know on reddit at /u/BenEBeats or in the comments.

About the Author
@JasonEAlt     -     Email     -     Articles Jason is a financier living in Michigan. You can find his work on Gathering Magic, Quiet Speculation, and MTG Price. Jason brings several years of MTG finance experience to the podcast as well as his signature wit and comic relief. Jason joined the podcast as a guest on Episode 10 and again on Episode 12 and it was clear that the group had a great dynamic. He became a permanent member of the cast soon after and the world of MTG finance hasn’t been the same since. Jason is also a disgruntled former member of Team Simic.

One comment on “B/g Midrange Tournament Report – Benjamin Sullivan

  1. Jason Alt says:

    This is a really great way to kick off this initiative. Great write-up!

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