Last Thoughts Leading into Las Vegas

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Before I begin today, I’d just like to make a comment about the changes made to Daily events and the impact they’ll have on my writing. With Pauper no longer being offered as a format for Daily events, I will unfortunately have to cancel any future writings on the format. Eight man events just aren’t very good value and premier events are too time consuming for me to participate in with any level of consistency. This news is pretty disappointing for me, but it’s out of my control, so I don’t plan on dwelling on it too much.

Instead let’s talk about Vegas- the upcoming Las Vegas Invitational that is. Last week I played in two non-Star City sanctioned events on back to days for the first time in quite a while. A four round FNM gave me a small bit of live testing for Standard and on Saturday I played the Legacy event at Hi Score Games in North Saint Paul.

I don’t have much to report from FNM. Four rounds isn’t a ton and my matches weren’t very interesting. I mean, sometimes I did cool things, but none of the lines were very difficult. This is what I’ve been thinking for Standard:

It’s called Pirates because it’s devoted to R.

Anyway, Red Devotion splashing green was the ChannelFireball deck at PT Theros and I’ve been interested in “big” Fanatic of Mogis decks every since then. The major incentive for being Green was Domri Rade, but the mana was a little rough and, at times, Domri could be rough as well. Burning-Tree Emissary helped with the mana, but you still needed to play Gruul Guildgate to make things work, and Guildgates are the worst.

More recently, Red Devotion splashing White for Chained to the Rocks, Assemble the Legion and Boros Charm in the 75 has been the flavor of the week, but the mana here is even worse. I also don’t really feel like the splash adds much of anything outside of an answer to Desecration Demon and a better answer to Master of Waves. Mizzium Mortars kills almost every relevant creature as is, and I’m of the opinion that if you aren’t getting to the point where you can overload [card]Mizzium Mortars[card] against Blue Devotion that you’re pretty unlikely to win that game anyway.

I will admit that Chained to the Rocks does address problems though. Assemble the Legion and Boros Charm are the more controversial inclusions in my opinion. Both are primarily there to combat Esper, but in all my experience Esper has been a pretty favorable matchup. There might be some confirmation bias going on on my end, but I’ve found that not overextending and casting Stormbreath Dragon put Esper in a rough spot. They’re also pretty solid cards against Black Devotion and Jund, but again I’m not really seeing those decks as unfavorable matchups. I like that the splash helps deal with Master of Waves, but I don’t care for the inconsistency and I don’t see the importance of non-Chained to the Rocks splash cards.

I’m pretty iffy on the sideboard. I’ve played with Aether Shockwave and hated it, but see that one or two might be necessary. I 100% will have the fourth Mizzium Mortars, some Burning Earths and at least three Anger of the Gods, but outside of that I’m pretty flexible. I’m thinking that some number of Ratchet Bomb is a good answer to Master of Waves, and will likely play one or two. Realistically, Ratchet Bomb is too slow to function as an actual removal spell against the aggressive decks, which is the big reason I don’t intend to include too many.

Blue/White control might be the best deck in Standard right now, and that matchup is quite a bit tougher than Esper, but I haven’t had the time to get the experience with that deck. With only a handful or testing under my belt I feel much safer just counting my Red mana symbols and hoping I see a number that I like.

As for Legacy, I’m feeling just about as safe as ever battling with RUG Delver. Here’s a breakdown of my Swiss rounds:

2-1 vs. BG Living Wish Hex Depths
2-1 vs. UW Miracles
2-1 vs. Slivers
2-1 vs. UWR Delver
0-2 vs. Burning Nic Fit

If you’re unfamiliar with Burning Nic Fit it’s Jund Nic Fit that kills you with Scapeshift, which is part of its Burning Wish sideboard. The deck is pretty sweet, and is dramatically worse for RUG than traditional Nic Fit decks as it has a combo element that can’t really be Spell Pierced. Scott Fielder has been playing the deck for some time now and I’m pretty sure he ranches me every time we battle.

Despite losing in the top 8 this was an extremely refreshing tournament. Many of my games were very close, which I find to be super rewarding. I wish that I had a better memory of the actual gameplay, but I sadly don’t have much to report.

I did learn something pretty interesting in round one though. When my opponent sacrificed Vampire Hexmage targetting Dark Depths I called a judge over before casting Stifle to see exactly how things work. It turns out that if you let the Hexmage trigger resolve then your Stifle becomes pretty worthless against the Depths, as it just triggers again due to still having zero counters. Sort of like Standstill. My opponent knew this, and perhaps it’s common knowledge, but it’s new to me!

This was my first time playing against UWR Delver since True-Name Nemesis was printed, and I still have to say that the card isn’t the end-all be-all that it’s being heralded as. I’ve played against it, I’ve watched other people play it- both live and on stream- and I have to say that it’s only very good.

It is a staple. It does impact deck building. It is not dramatically format warping.

Now, onto more important matters! I’ve been battling with 14 cards on my sideboard that I’ve been very happy with and trying out various garbage for the final slot lately. I know that I’m happy with these:

Two weeks ago I decided that I hate Vendilion Clique and this week I confirmed that I despise Swan Song.

Anvilwrought Raptor is commonly advocated, but it’s only especially good against Elves! players who decide that they want to play in a way that loses to Anvilwrought Raptor. If I went that route I’d rather have a Forked Bolt as it deals with Deathrite Shaman and Stoneforge Mystic more efficiently, while still being stellar against Elves!

I don’t think I want a crummy damage spell though. I haven’t ruled Forked Bolt out completely, but I’m looking more closely at the third Blue Blast or fourth Red Blast.

Red Blast is a nod to Show and Tell and True-Name Nemesis, while Blue Blast is a nod to Blood Moon while having splash damage against Goblins, Burn, Storm, and probably some other nonsense that I’m forgetting. Dredge I guess?

Blood Moon is harder to beat than True-Name Nemesis, but only one of these can be Spell Pierced. I’m of the belief that Show and Tell and True-Name Nemesis will be much more widely represented than Blood Moon though. My gut tells me Red Blast. My brain tells me there’s something I’m missing.

At any rate, I know for a certainty that I’m on Pirates and RUG for Vegas. All I can hope for now is a little last minute insight, a lot of luck and for my flights to be on time.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf

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