GP London – Deck Selection

At this point in my magic playing career I’ve come to the conclusion that my skill level is inversely proportional to the number of players attending the event in which I am competing. I’ve gone from winning and placing well in local leagues and tournaments to mediocre placements in large pre-releases to a pretty consistent 1-4/0-5 then drop in large events.

Part of it is a don’t play a great deal online and only have limited testing opportunities. Another part came down to odd match ups and completely consistently getting awful match ups (5 straight rounds vs merfolk in modern when playing as BG infect was a particularly bad one). Plus I think there may be an element of I just don’t play as well in that kind of environment.

In the last GP I went to (the sealed GP london for … I think it was gatecrash) I crashed out after an abysmal series of rounds (bad pool, plus I was worse at building sealed back then than I am now). Despite all of that I want to go anyway for another GP [mtg_card]Griselbrand[/mtg_card], to get the mat (I like Chandra and it’ll go nicely with my M14 game day mat) and for some general fun, after all if I do terribly I can just wander off to side events and buy stuff.

Given it’s been a fair old while since I’ve played standard or had any idea of the meta game (beyond knowing [mtg_card]Siege Rhino[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Tasigur, the Golden Fang[/mtg_card] are big deals) I doubt that I’m going to have any particular success with a very meta-gamey type arrangement so I may as well go for a fun option.

I had two major options in mind, the first being a pretty simple abzan midrange build. It was a traditional assortment of [mtg_card]Courser of Kruphix[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Siege Rhino[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Elspeth, Sun’s Champion[/mtg_card] along with removal and some guys to fill out the list.

I eventually ruled this out on the basis that it’s never been a deck type I’ve been that great at playing and given how common the big chunky midrange deck type is at the moment everyone will be well set up to deal with it.

My other option (and pretty much the only thing I have all the cards to build the deck in a half decent way) is warriors. I’ve had a few versions of this as we go from set to set. The original was a super budget build with [mtg_card]Raiders’ Spoils[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Spear of Heliod[/mtg_card] 4 of both chiefs and an assortment of budget creatures.

With fate reforged I bought in [mtg_card]Brutal Hordechief[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Mardu Strike Leader[/mtg_card] and the fantastically flexible [mtg_card]Valorous Stance[/mtg_card]. I also experimented with [mtg_card]Merciless Executioner[/mtg_card] but he rapidly got downgraded from main to sideboard to “in the box of cards again”. I like the card, he just doesn’t fit with what you’re trying to do in this deck.

With dragons the option to add this blocks “Three mana double white two two double strike with upside” dude came up. He isn’t [mtg_card]Silverblade Paladin[/mtg_card] but in this deck he’s better.

[d title="BW Warriors - August 2015"]
2 Brutal Hordechief
2 Arashin Foremost
2 Mardu Strike Leader
4 Chief of the Edge 
4 Seeker of the Way
2 Battle Brawler 
2 Blood-Chin Rager 
4 Bloodsoaked Champion 
4 Mardu Woe-Reaper

4 Hero's Downfall 
2 Ultimate Price

2 Secure the Wastes 
4 Valorous Stance 

4 Temple of Silence 
4 Caves of Koilos 
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
7 Plains
6 Swamp 

1 Ajani Steadfast
2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
2 Blood-Chin Fanatic
2 Mardu Strike Leader
2 Banishing Light
4 Thoughtseize 

With this version, pre sideboard at least, I’m going for a lower curve than I usually would with only [mtg_card]Brutal Hordechief[/mtg_card] at 4.

I was sad to drop [mtg_card]Chief of the Scale[/mtg_card] but this deck is very much trying to be aggressive and I think in the end that Rager and Brawler are better (the mass menace in particular could swing a few games).

[mtg_card]Seeker of the Way[/mtg_card] should be an asset against more aggressive opponents, especially considering the large amount of instant speed removal. “Shoot guy A, my seeker now survives and kills blocker B” isn’t an implausible scenario.

As mentioned, for removal I’ve gone for all instant speed and as much versatility as I can. [mtg_card]Hero’s Downfall[/mtg_card], for me at least, is an auto include in any black deck. The option to kill an opposing Sorin or Ajani (or just big dumb blocker) is too useful to turn up. Ultimate price is just for additional cheap removal. [mtg_card]Valorous Stance[/mtg_card] is replacing a full set of [mtg_card]God’s Willing[/mtg_card] that I ran in the previous version of the deck. I can see missing the option to just make a guy semi unblockable but the option for yet more removal is too good, especially vs the aforementioned rhinos.

Another bonus of the all instant speed removal is the possibility of holding up removal and, should it not be needed, dumping all my mana into secure the wastes at opponents EOT. even if its only for 3 the tokens still play pretty nicely with [mtg_card]Chief of the Edge[/mtg_card], [mtg_card]Brutal Hordechief[/mtg_card] etc (and Sorin post board)

The sideboard is still a work in progress but it gives me some options to take the deck a couple of ways.

[mtg_card]Blood-Chin Fanatic[/mtg_card] is an experimental option to use against midrange decks as an alternate way to get the last few points of damage through once they stabilise. The off-tribe [mtg_card]Brimaz, King of Oreskos[/mtg_card] is here as an anti aggro option, but also strikes me as possibly useful vs control brought in along with the extra [mtg_card]Mardu Strike Leader[/mtg_card]s.

[mtg_card]Banishing Light[/mtg_card] and [mtg_card]Thoughtseize[/mtg_card] are generic catch all options. [mtg_card]Sorin, Solemn Visitor[/mtg_card] is a more fun option which I imagine I’ll bring in in any matchup where I don’t see him immediately dying without providing much value.

Finally as is traditional my 15th sideboard card is just a random throw in for fun (call me OCD but I hate 1 and 3 ofs), although [mtg_card]Ajani Steadfast[/mtg_card] could come in handy against creature heavy decks to keep a guy that would otherwise die alive in combat every go.

All this being said everything above is wild conjecture so I’m looking forward to actually…you know…playing the damn thing.

What do you reckon the odds are on a traditional 0-4, drop, shop for cube foils result?