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Mike’s SCG IQ Top 8 Maze’s End Deck

Maze's End
Brian and I went to a StarCityGames Invitational Qualifier last weekend (02-15-2014).  You heard Brian talk about his deck on Episode 312 (hopefully his decklist will make it to the site soon enough), but my own deck was just casually mentioned.  Since I ended up making Top 8, Chewie had me write up the decklist and some quick comments to highlight a few recent changes, important cards, and how I did at the event.  You can find those comments at the bottom of the decklist, given below:

 

Lands (28)

 

Planeswalkers (4)

 

Other Spells (28)

 

Sideboard (15)

 

 

This deck was initially inspired by the list Kenny Oberg (among others) brought to Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze.  I had heard about Turbo-Fog versions of the deck before, but it hadn’t occurred to me to instead just load up on removal and solve problems that way.  Personally, I found that a lot more appealing.

 

Earlier versions of this deck differed in what might seem like subtle ways on paper but were pretty significant in practical impact.  Instead of the Theros block cards and the 3rd and 4th copies of several cards in the list given here, the deck used to run a number of Azorius Charm, Sphinx’s Revelation, and Ral Zarek.  I never really liked the former two in this deck (they also skewed my mana needs far too heavily towards W/U), and the latter was always just kind of a placeholder anyway.  All the cards that have been added since then do a lot to shore up my defenses against creatures and strategies that I used to have trouble with.

 

Kiora, the Crashing Wave deserves special mention here.  It might seem like her -1 ability is the obvious reason for inclusion in a deck like this, but she goes so much deeper than that.  Kiora’s +1 ability is vital for the defense it offers against serious problem creatures like Mutavault, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, Stormbreath Dragon, and Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, among others.  That first ability rarely has nothing to do, so it’s actually a rare case for the -1 to take its place during the turn.  Also, it’s really nice to see an opponent squirm around and get distracted trying to prevent the -5 from happening, in which case Kiora soaks up even more damage that would otherwise have gone my way.

 

My record in the SCG IQ Swiss rounds was 3-1-1, and I lost in the first round of top 8 to place 8th of 30 players.  Two of my wins were against W/U Control, which is a very favorable matchup for this deck.  By the time the opponent is really ready to get rolling, my hand is full of cards and I’m only a handful of turns away from winning.  My other win and my loss in the Swiss were against Mono Black Devotion.  The difficulty of that match depends heavily on whether I get the right kind of removal against Pack Rat and how many Gray Merchants my opponent sees.  My final loss was against R/G Aggro, knocking me out of the top 8.  Pretty much every non-land card in that deck is an efficient and/or resilient threat, making it extremely difficult to keep up if I draw either not enough removal or too many 1-for-1 removal spells.  My draw was an ID into top 8, with an opponent who I’m pretty sure was playing W/U Control.  He wasn’t able to escape his fate, however, as he was knocked out in the first round of the top 8 by another Maze’s End deck.

 

The revisions to the deck over the previous version really changed the feel and the essential character, and I find so many fewer frustrating moments during the course of an average game.  I haven’t gotten bored with it yet, and hopefully things will stay that way for a while.
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18 Comments

  1. Austin
    February 18, 2014 at 12:13 am | Permalink

    Yus! I’ve been waiting for this deck for quite a while, but have been too lazy to go back and find previous mentions in older episodes. A good read on a good deck.

    • February 18, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Glad you like it. I don’t think we’ve actually shared a list before, or even talked in much real detail, so here you go!

      • Ausitn
        February 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        So I came across a troublesome deck while at FNM with my Maze’s End deck.
        Mill.
        A deck that I did not expect to have to play against, needless to say, gave me some problems. I got very lucky in his bad draws and that he did not mill out two of the same gate.
        What does your version of the End do against this?

        • February 28, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Basically I just pray for either a Bow of Nylea or a fast Kiora emblem in game 1. The sideboard plan is the second Bow, Crackling Perimeters, and Pithing Needles. Maybe even the last Warleader’s Helix if I really think I’ll have to win with damage.

  2. Jars
    February 18, 2014 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Love the 0x Emrakul, Phage and Progenitus. Good meta call. It’s a good way to fight the lack of Sneak and Show, Griselbrand and Akroma in the format.

    Question: did you find yourself 1 turn behind everyone else? Or does your glut of answers make up for it?

    What’s the mode you used the most on the Bow of Nylea?

    • February 18, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Heh, it looks like you saw the version of the post that still had the silly joke. I edited it out because it started to feel a little too silly.

      I only ever activated the Bow for life gain. I added it to the list a couple weeks ago after Chewie showed me a list for a deck that placed well in a recent event (probably an SCG Open or something, I can’t remember). I’m not sure how many matches I’ll ever play where it makes sense to use one of the other modes, but a repeatable 3 life can go a long way. I just still need to play more games to make a final decision on whether to keep it.

  3. February 18, 2014 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    Your sideboard has 19 cards in it. I like the deck.

    • February 18, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      That’s really weird. Somehow between me sending the list to Chewie and the post being published the wrong numbers were given for Merciless Eviction and Warleader’s Helix. I’ll edit that right now. Thanks for letting me know!

  4. zzzzsman
    February 18, 2014 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    congrats dude. i really love maze’s end. glad you did great

  5. GimmePizzaSlow
    February 21, 2014 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I love this deck. I know it is ridiculous, but i was sort of hoping to see Chromanticore in the board.

  6. Clayton
    March 2, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I like this a lot. Like, a LOT. I’m going to make a budget version of this to play casually (by ‘budget’ I mean I will probably do something different than the four Kioras). Great job, Mike, and thanks for posting!

  7. James
    March 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Why are you running unexpected results?

    • March 3, 2014 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      In game 1, it’s just a little something that’s generally useful as it represents more of the rest of the deck. After that it gets boarded out for cards that will make the deck more specifically good against my opponent. Having a couple general slots in the deck to expressly get boarded out for specific stuff is just a personal trend in the way I build Standard decks.

      • James
        March 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        That makes sense, allows you to get more gates into play etc… I’m excited to try a similar list this Friday.

        What do you think of Aurelia’s Fury as a pseudo fog/ kill spell in the list?

        • March 5, 2014 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

          It’s worth a shot, but be advised that X spells in a deck with almost nothing but ETB-tapped lands can start feeling a lot worse than they usually are. That’s the main reason Sphinx’s Revelation used to be another “always board this out” slot and eventually left the deck entirely.

  8. March 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I thought I was the only one to run removal instead of fog for Maze’s End! I’ll be honest, I never thought to use Unexpected Results, but I like your reasoning for it. One thing I love in my Maze’s End deck is sideboarded Slaughter Games; I sadly never see anyone else use it.

    • March 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      That’s awesome. When I first made the deck I also had 2-3 copies of Slaughter Games in the sideboard, but I can’t remember what exactly happened to make me replace them.

  9. sam
    March 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Mike this deck is sweet :)
    (and btw your still awesome in Scotland) ;)

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