We’ve got some more Magic coverage for you from this weekend! Last weekend was Grand Prix Santiago and Star City Games: Oakland. Let’s see what happened.
GP Santiago (Santiago, CHI)
Two Abzan Midrange decks battled it out in the finals, and Eduardo dos Santos Vieira was the top dog in the end. The two decks are significantly different. The winning deck included three copies of [card]Soul of Theros[/card], the somewhat forgotten about M15 mythic rare that dominated M15 Limited but as of yet has put up no results in Standard to talk about. Well, that time is over. Soul of Theros is a real card and could be expected to show up in future Abzan lists based on these results.
The winning deck seemed to be a cross between the GB constellation decks that used [card]Whip of Erebos[/card] to put out a [card]Hornet Queen[/card] and Ari Lax’s Pro Tour Khans winning list. Vieira even included two [card]Doomwake Giants[/card] and an [card]Eidolon of Blossoms[/card] in the main deck to provide some constellation action, along with a playset of [card]Satyr Wayfinder[/card]s and two [card]Commune with the Gods[/card] to have a self-mill plan. The deck is definitely stranger than most Abzan lists we’ve seen so far, but only proves that Abzan is a deep clan that can take many different directions based on the metagame.
The second place Abzan deck resembled the previous Abzan Aggro decks we’ve seen in the past. Three [card]Anafenza, the Foremost[/card]s were in the main deck along with [card]Rakshasa Deathdealer[/card] and [card]Fleeceman Lion[/card]. The sideboard of the runner up is quite a trip—almost every single card is a one-of and resembles something you might see from a Legacy High Tide or old Survival side board.
Rounding out the Top 8, we have another Abzan Midrange deck, three Temur Aggro decks, Red Deck Wins, and the Sidisi-Whip deck.
There were eleven copies of [card]Boon Satyr[/card] across all three Temur Aggro decks—definitely something to keep in mind if you plan on playing Temur Aggro in Standard. I like picking up Boom Boom Satyr at less than $1 in anticipation of future Standard play in this archetype.
Twelve of each of [card]Rattleclaw Mystic[/card] and [card]Savage Knuckleblade[/card] is also noteworthy. These guys might dip below $3 as more Khans is opened, but I’m not sure how much lower they can get. Rattleclaw is definitely going to be played during the post-Khans Standard, there is no question about that. Finally, eight [card]Ashcloud Phoenix[/card]es showing up continues to showcase the Phoenix’s power. There is room for the Phoenix to drop, and I like picking them up for post-Theros Standard play once that happens.
In terms of Sidisi-Whip, keep an eye on [card]Sidisi, Brood Tyrant[/card]. She is pretty strong but the deck doesn’t seem to be putting up consistent results. I think there is still room to drop but she could shine eventually.
SCG Open: Oakland, CA (USA) – Standard
We have a new type of deck that was able to take down the Standard portion of the weekend by playing a unique combo strategy that isn’t the typical Jeskai Ascendency combo build. Ivan Jen took down the tournament piloting a deck called Jeskai Heroic Combo, which utilizes the power of the [card]Jeskai Ascendency[/card] enchantment to target your own creatures, which have heroic and prowess, and win based off targeting them several times in a turn and then attacking with huge creatures or lots of soldier tokens. This isn’t an infinite combo deck, but it still provides a turn where the player “goes off” so to speak and can get a huge creature and a bunch of soldier tokens that the opponent is unable to deal with.
Cards that defined this deck included the creatures ([card]Lagonna-Band Trailblazer[/card], whatt!?), [card]Jeskai Ascendency[/card], and lots of cheap cantrips paired with [card]Retraction Helix[/card] and [card]Gods Willing[/card]. Lands included a playset of both [card]Battlefield Forge[/card] and [card]Temple of Triumph[/card], along with three [card]Mana Confluence[/card]s. In the sideboard, three [card]Chasm Skulker[/card] are seen, which can help in the Abzan and other matches that play a large amount of creature removal.
More results need to be seen, but to me, this looks like a quirky combo deck that needs to be playtested quite a lot in order to know the optimal plays. I don’t think any cards in the deck are going to spike in the near future from these results. On the plus side, it is a cheap deck to build. Only the lands and Jeskai Ascendency are rares in the main deck, and Chasm Skulker is the only rare in the sideboard.
Rounding out the rest of the Top 8 were two Abzan Midrange decks, three GB Constellation decks, Jeskai Aggro, and Temur Monsters.
The second place Abzan Midrange piloted by Justin Porchas was much more straightforward than the fourth place deck that Alexander Lien built. Lien was trying to do what dos Santos Vieira did in Chile, while Porchas’s build was more controlling and opted to toe the line with the previously well-placing Abzan builds.
Joshua Velasco’s GB Constellation build was unique. The eighth-place list had a playset of [card]Genesis Hydra[/card] in the deck and was a fully stocked creature build that focused on ramping up quickly to deploy an early Polukranos to fight some guys. The other GB Constellation builds were very similar, playing the self-mill strategy to [card]Whip of Erebos[/card] out a threat in addition to ramping up to deploy [card]Doomwake Giant[/card] or [card]Hornet Queen[/card]. Noticeably absent from all three of these builds was [card]See the Unwritten[/card], the green mythic rare sorcery from Khans that many players were salivating over after Jon Finkel was seen playing it during the PT. It looks like See the Unwritten isn’t quite as good as players initially thought, so until more support is printed for the card, I don’t think we’ll be seeing players cast it for a while in Standard.
SCG Open: Oakland, CA (USA) – Legacy
The story of this tournament is Dredge, which put three people into the Top 16 of the event and was the deck that took down the tournament. Joseph Moreno opted to play a land-light main deck that focused solely on the [card]Bridge from Below[/card] plan of generating tons of zombies. He only played one [card]Dread Return[/card] in the main deck without any reanimation targets like [card]Griselbrand[/card] or [card]Flame-Kin Zealot[/card]. Sometimes a huge [card]Golgari Grave-Troll[/card] gets there. His sideboard only made his deck faster by having three [card]Lotus Petal[/card]s to speed up his clock. I liked that he included three [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] as a catch-all to get rid of any hate that his opponent would sideboard in. He had a backup [card]Dread Return[/card] plan for Iona out of the board, though it was interesting he did not include a Dread Return game plan in the main deck.
Two of the Dredge decks had a full playset of [card]Mana Confluence[/card[ in the main deck. This bodes well for its foil price long-term. Currently foils are around $30, which is high, but I don’t think they are going to go lower than this. It is a third-set rare, which means regular copies are already harder to come by than usual. Foils will be even harder to find as time goes on. I’m assuming that this will be reprinted at some point. However, if you pick up foil copies, I don’t think you’re going to lose when the reprint happens.
ANT, Goblins, and Lands all made the Top 8 of this tournament as well. These decks are all very good in Legacy but I wasn’t sure if they would be able to go toe-to-toe with [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] and all of the U/R Delver that is flying around in Legacy right now. Looks like they were able to beat their fair share throughout the day.
ANT was a fairly typical build that Randolph Gille piloted to a third-place finish. He made a comment that black discard is really good in Legacy right now, as it helps stop a Treasure Cruise before it happens. He main decked three [card]Cabal Therapy[/card]s in a creatureless deck to back up this statement. Looks like it helped him that day, because even though he didn’t win, he still managed to get third place.
Goblins is something we haven’t seen in a while. Richard Liu preferred to draw four cards and have a 2/2 with haste rather than delving for Treasure Cruise and three cards. A main deck [card]Goblin Settler[/card] was an interesting choice. This random Starter 1999 uncommon is worth $45 TCGplayer mid, which is quite the hefty price tag. The card certainly isn’t [card]Grim Tutor[/card], but wow, did Starter 1999 really put upward pressure on some of the better cards.
Kiki-Jiki also made an appearance in this deck. Even though there weren’t any [card]Siege-Gang Commander[/card]s to copy, there were definitely some juicy targets in [card]Tuktuk Scrapper[/card], [card]Stingscourger[/card], [card]Mogg War Marshal[/card], [card]Goblin Ringleader[/card], and [card]Goblin Matron[/card]. Four copies of [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] is pretty much the only way this deck even has game against Miracles, but I thought including the two [card]Pendelhaven[/card] main deck was also pretty cute. Also, three [card]Pyrokinesis[/card] and two [card]Tarfire[/card] main deck were great tools to help fight against Delver. The sideboard had the white cards that Plateau can play, [card]Rest in Peace[/card] and [card]Thalia, Guardian of Thraben[/card], to help in difficult matchups.
The version of Lands that made the Top 8 was very grindy. It included such wonders as [card]Zuran Orb[/card], [card]Crucible of Worlds[/card], and [card]Engineered Explosives[/card] in the main deck, which along with [card]Punishing Fire[/card] and [card]Grove of the Burnwillows[/card] ensured that nothing with toughness two or less survived very long. Zack Wong opted to play many different one-of lands in the deck, such as [card]Academy Ruins[/card], [card]Bojuka Bog[/card], [card]Glacial Chasm[/card], and even [card]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/card] to help lands that don’t make mana start making it. I bet this worked great with the [card]Intuition[/card]s to help him out in various situations.
The kill, of course, was [card]Thespian’s Stage[/card] and [card]Dark Depths[/card], but it seems like without [card]Crop Rotation[/card] it would take quite a while to get there. [card]Notion Thief[/card] out of the sideboard is pretty funny—guess I’ll draw those three cards off [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] instead of you. [card]Nephalia Drownyard[/card] is an interesting sideboard choice as well. It probably came in for the mirror match or against other control decks as an additional clock for victory.
Tin Fins made the Top 16 of the tournament. This deck relies on [card]Children of Korlis[/card] in order to assist [card]Griselbrand[/card] in drawing you cards so that eventually the deck can kill you with [card]Trendrils of Agony[/card]. This feels like a bad mashup of Sneak and Show and Storm but if you’ve never seen the deck than it could be pretty hard to fight against it. The deck plays four [card]Shallow Grave[/card]s, which spiked a while back to $25, but has now come back down to earth and settled at $8.50 TCGplayer mid. If you want to play the deck, I would pick up [card]Shallow Grave[/card]s before they go back to more than $10 if the deck puts up good results at GP New Jersey.
BONUS – SCG Premier IQ Oakland, CA (USA) – Modern
At Oakland, Star City Games also hosted a Modern Invitational Qualifier and I’m interested in seeing the results of that. It has been a while since I’ve covered Modern and it would be helpful to see how Khans has impacted the format.
First place was taken by Alan Marling piloting Affinity. Affinity has been one of the mainstays of the Modern format since its inception. These days, Affinity is playing [card]Ensoul Artifact[/card] to help speed up the clock on the aggro plan. Marling’s deck also plays two copies of [card]Spell Pierce[/card] in the main deck, which I’m guessing is used to help fight the influx of [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] in Modern. I also noticed a playset of [card]Spellskite[/card]s in the main deck. It is pretty unusual to see a playset of Spellskite in any deck, but with Affinity I can understand this, due to it being an artifact and helping draw all of the removal away from cards like [card]Memnite[/card], [card]Ornithopter[/card], and [card]Signal Pest[/card]. Other than these additions, the list contains all the usual suspects like [card]Mox Opal[/card], [card]Cranial Plating[/card], [card]Steel Overseer[/card], and [card]Vault Skirge[/card].
Second place went to a Temur Midrange deck, which played everything but the Splinter Twin combo. This deck was a pure control deck, playing tons of spells and adding [card]Dig Through Time[/card] in order to pick the best spell for a particular situation. [card]Vedalken Shackles[/card] in the main deck is an interesting choice that probably surprised some folks, considering that this a three-color deck. There are nine islands in the deck, so on average, only about three to four them were on the field at any given time. However, Shackles worked well for Yiwen Song, who was able to take the deck to the finals.
Third place went to R/U Burn, an existing Burn archetype that got even better now that [card]Treasure Cruise[/card] has been added to the format. Based on the Burn deck that splashed white for [card]Boros Charm[/card] to take down GP Kobe, burn decks these days are adding blue as well in order to cast Cruise. So they’ve become these R/w/u monstrosities that are able to kill very quickly if you are not prepared for it.
Rounding out the rest of the Top 8 were WG Hexproof, Infect, another Burn deck, UR Twin, and another Affinity build. [card]Become Immense[/card] was a two-of in the Infect deck, which means that you should be on the lookout for it in Infect moving forward. The card is very powerful in the deck, but only two copies were played because if you get too many over the course of a game, eventually they will be uncastable.
Plenty of interesting results this weekend. Here’s some highlights:
- [card]Soul of Theros[/card] looks to be a real card in Abzan. It’s still only $1.50 on TCGPlayer, which is pretty cheap for a backbreaking mythic rare that probably has plenty of casual appeal as well. I’ll be picking up a few copies because it is still essentially a bulk mythic rare at this price.
- Anafenza is showing up in Abzan Aggro lists. She has some room to drop but I will be on the lookout for copies once they get to $3 or less.
- Temur Aggro will be a deck moving forward. Keep an eye on [card]Rattleclaw Mystic[/card], [card]Savage Knuckleblade[/card], [card]Ashcloud Phoenix[/card], and especially [card]Boon Satyr[/card].
- Like Anafenza, Sidisi has room to drop as well without more results. At $1.50 or less she gets more appealing to me.
- Don’t fret too much over the Jeskai Heroic Combo deck. There isn’t much opportunity in the deck and it seems like a very hard deck to play once people start boarding in hate to deal with it. The only noteworthy rare is [card]Chasm Skulker[/card] out of the sideboard, but I feel like the boat has already passed for it at $2.
- [card]See the Unwritten[/card] is less played than initially thought. Don’t expect much from this card financially until it reappears in a Top 8 deck sometime in the future.
- [card]Spellskite[/card] has started rising again. It is $19 on TCGPlayer and could continue to go up until it sees a reprint. If Affinity starts adopting the playset in the main deck, it could continue to go up.
- [card]Dig Through Time[/card] is also appearing in Modern alongside of [card]Treasure Cruise[/card]. At $7 TCGplayer mid, there is room to drop. Once this rare gets down to $3.50 or less, it will be time to move in and start picking up copies.
- [card]Become Immense[/card] has made its way into Modern Infect builds. I would target foils accordingly at $1 or less.
- Foil [card]Mana Confluence[/card] looks good since Dredge has easily adopted this land over [card]City of Brass[/card], at least in main decks.
- [card]Goblin Settler[/card] is $45 and hard to find. I don’t think these results are going to increase the card’s price by themselves, but if Goblins places well at GP New Jersey playing this card, you can definitely expect some increased interest in it.
- [card]Shallow Grave[/card] has gotten more affordable lately. It could certainly spike if Tin Fins does well. I don’t like buying them at $8.50, but I would trade for them at that price.
- C14 [card]Daretti, Scrap Savant[/card] could spur interest in the mono-red Painter decks. [card]Grindstone[/card], [card]Painter’s Servant[/card], and [card]Imperial Recruiter[/card] may become financially relevant if Painter starts showing up more.