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:
4x Maze’s End
Other Spells (28)
1x Bow of Nylea
4x Far // Away
2x Turn // Burn
1x Bow of Nylea
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.