Magic the Tournament Grind: July (M14 Prep)

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So it’s been a little while since I’ve posted an article. In June’s update I left off with high aspirations to tackle the major lingering issue since I began my tournament grind this year which was to get tons and tons of testing in. In my defense I set out to accomplish this and actually played a fair number of games…at least to start. As I was testing top tier decks thinking about which felt like the right choice it quickly dawned on me that M14 would be released before my next SCG Open in Richmond that I planned to attend. While I knew many of the top tier staples would probably be around, the meta tuned decks I was vigorously trying to optimize would be less prepared for the influx of fresh cards M14 would bring. This, along with a vacation and a couple brutal work weeks with tons of travel, meant my testing spree ended rather abruptly.

I eagerly followed the M14 spoilers to try and brew new decks post M14 or find that one card that could augment an existing deck. Overall, nothing felt game changing. Some good cards came that will certainly help some decks. The new Garruk planeswalker is really cool (too bad I’m allergic to green), Young Pyromancer is really interesting, Chandra’s Phoenix is an old favorite of mine, and Ratchet Bomb always feels like a good card. However, the one card I felt coming back to over and over and over again was Silence. ld29_silence2

It almost felt like an addiction. Those players who know me (or who have played against my legacy decks) know that deep down, I LOVE prison type cards. I seriously can’t resist them. Because in my mind, rationally or irrationally, they seem like the best ever. I’m that guy.

So as I scribbled down decklists I always came back to trying to figure out a list where I could jam 4 Silence into the maindeck. What became even more tantalizing was the idea of maxing out on Snapcaster Mages to flashback Silence and I quickly anchored to U/W/X. I was looking at tempo decks, midrange, control, everything. My impulse was to make it work, no holds barred, the YOYO of YOLO but…I did question myself. Is it actually good? Am I just sacrificing slots that could be something better? What deck should I play?… What deck do I WANT to play???

My teammates had already been one week deep on their deck choices and with a  little less than a week out from the tourney I rolled into The End Games to sit down with them to figure out what to do. What do I play? We talked about a variety of decks looking at what seemed good, at what top tier decks got improvements, the decks the pros like, etc. With no real choice the only conclusion we had was “Play what you WANT to play”…Silence.

We had an esper control deck lying around that was leftover from a win-a-box or something. I thought, hey thats a u/w/x list. That can have 4 Snapcaster Mages and 4 Silences. I also really like Far/Away (especially with Snapcasters) and the addition of Doom Blade from M14. So I picked it up, cut the riff raff, added my Silences and went to testing. Heres the list I played.

4 Snapcaster Mage

1 Jace, Memory Adept

4 Azorius Charm

2 Doom Blade

3 Far/Away

2 Dissipate

2 Syncopate

4 Silence

4 Terminus

4 Think Twice

4 Sphinx’s Revelation

4 Nephalia Drownyard

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Glacial Fortress

3 Isolated Chapel

4 Godless Shrine

4 Drowned Catacomb

3 Watery Grave

Overall this is a standard esper control variant (Silence sha-nay-nays aside). The largest difference is this particular version is being all in on drownyard, which I’m a fan of.

I tested against a few decks and overall this ran fantastic and even better news, Silence actually was awesome! This deck obviously wants to get to the late game something fierce so early Silence plays essentially act as a Timewalk for you to get closer to the point in time when the deck shines. This causes the opponent to “dump” his hand after a couple silent turns of not casting spells which you then can capitalize on getting a 1 for X with something like a Far/Away or Terminus. Lastly, as you transition into the late game Silence is just as good since on turns you Silence the opponent you can freely activate Nephalia Drownyard, which you often have to use that mana to continue controlling the board. Basically, Silence and the Drownyard game plan actually work quite well together and Snapcaster helps keep the plan online.

Far/Away also interacts well with the higher Snapcaster Mage count. Azorius Charm is even more effective with the added freedom to activate Drownyard. With less slots devoted to win conditions you can also put in more card draw and removal so you can keep control and dig to what you need.

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Overall I’m really digging it, but I need to tune it some. I kind of want a Oblivion Ring in the maindeck and I need to take a sharp look at the side board. My first cut was something like this.

1 Dispel

2 Negate

2 Duress

1 Doom Blade

1 Supreme Verdict

2 Renounce the Guilds

1 Curse of Death’s Hold

2 Ratchet Bomb

1 Witchbane Orb

1 Liliana of the Veil

1 Jace, Memory Adept

It feels kinda like a mess and to be honest I’m not sure what I feel like I need to combat but I do know I don’t want to lose to Hexproof. I hate losing to hexproof. I also feel weak to aggro maybe? Like I said, needs work. One thing I really do like are the sideboard options that playing black offers. Hand disruption seems undervalued these days and I can’t figure out why?

Overall I’m excited. I’m for sure playing something close to this list at SCG Open Richmond this weekend. I’ll obviously follow up with a post about it. I’ll be at the The End Games as much as possible to test this sucker so if you see me hit me up for a game. Shout outs TEG BIG
Later dudes

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