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Insider: I PTQQ’d with Chromanticore (And So Can You!)

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You put a lot of people on life tilt when you beat them with Chromanticore.

No matter how much or little success the card sees, people don't want to believe in the power of five-color cards. There's no historical precedent for them being good, even in eras where five-color decks were otherwise playable. If you close your mind to things that haven't happened before, you'll never innovate.

I hadn't played the deck enough previously to fully sing its praises, but I'm now ready to tell you that Chromanticore is the truth.


I've played the Chromanticore Delve deck at four relevant events now. I took twelth at SCG Midwest Regionals, seventh in an SCG Super IQ, 9th at a PTQ, and on Sunday I won a PTQQ.

My combined record at these events is 21-6-3. If we counted those intentional draws as wins, that would be an 80% win rate. This is rather dishonest, but who uses statistics honestly in order to illustrate a point? Ignore the draws entirely and we're still at 77.8%. Also dishonest in its own right, but the deck's not good just because you can illustrate that it has won matches.

That's just a bad way to think about things.

[rant]

Another bad way to think about things is to simply trust a source rather than figure out if their reasoning is logical.

Among the people who have any respect for the Chromanticore deck, most do so because Tom Ross said so. In fact, I believe that the list that Tom Ross suggested in his article last week is in many ways worse than mine.

I like where his head is at with Siege Rhino, but the execution makes the manabase very awkward and the deck itself loses a bit of coherence. The list I posted here has better mana and, in my belief, is more strategically sound:

[/rant]

Changes Made for Last Weekend

Last Saturday was the last real PTQ here in Minnesota, and Sunday was the last PTQQ of the Vancouver season.

I had been playing the deck on MTGO ever since my strong showing at Regionals and the Super IQ the following day, and the only element  I wasn't liking in the maindeck was Flamewake Phoenix.

It's the only card in the deck that just kind of sucks when you cast it and the value of haste just isn't worth this downside. I'd say that the pressure it puts on the manabase is tough, but this isn't exactly true.

The deck really wants to be base black/green, and focusing on an ally-colored shard allows the deck to play two different kinds of fetchlands and therefor have more lands come into play untapped while taking minimal damage. The Mountains aren't great, but the cost is so low and Tormenting Voice really helps the deck smooth out its draws.

I had cut one Phoenix from the deck on MTGO for a Tasigur, the Golden Fang and it had been performing well. In fact, the only thing really stopping me from playing more was my disinterest in paying 9-10 tickets for more copies.

For the live events, I knew that the Phoenixes weren't hacking it and I elected to track down two Tasigurs and play a Rattleclaw Mystic over the third Phoenix that was still in the deck.

Long story short is that Rattleclaw, while having its benefits, is pretty underwhelming. I picked up a third Tasigur after going 5-2 at the PTQ and was committed to making the switch for Sunday's PTQQ.


My losses at the PTQ were to a very controlling version of Abzan and to the eventual winner Ken Bearl, who was on Jeskai Aggro.

The Jeskai matchup is pretty close and is winnable, but the control matchups and the slower Abzan decks are tough to beat.

I had Negate in my sideboard for the PTQ and it just didn't mesh with the deck. Not only is blue mana tough, but this deck often can't afford to leave up Negate mana while trying to be proactive.

Not to mention that Thoughtseize colds it pretty hard. I would also rather have something that I could find with Commune with the Gods for these matchups, something I could try to be proactive with. These decks are just way better at playing control in these matchups and I don't see being reactive as being very viable.

The two cards I decided to put to the test for the PTQQ were Phyrexian Revoker and Torrent Elemental. I liked the idea of using Revoker to turn off Planeswalkers and maybe even Perilous Vault.

The idea behind Torrent Elemental is that you can use it to delve and then gain value by playing it from exile. Its abilities aren't generally exciting against control decks, but it does come back if felled by Perilous Vault or Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.

Its other ability is much stronger against Abzan. If you have a bunch of Sagu Maulers and they have a bunch of Siege Rhinos, tapping all of their creatures can turn a board stall into a landslide victory.


This is the list I registered for the PTQQ:

This is how the tournament went:

  • Round 1: 1-2 vs. Boros Aggro
  • Round 2: 2-0 vs. Mardu Aggro
  • Round 3: 2-0 vs. Abzan Aggro
  • Round 4: 2-0 vs. Gruul Aggro
  • Round 5: ID
  • Quarterfinals: 2-1 vs. Eric Hawkins on Sultai Control
  • Semifinals: 2-0 vs. Abzan Midrange
  • Finals: Split with Abzan Aggro

Was I favored in the finals? Sure. The payout was a box of Khans of Tarkir to first and $75 in store credit to second. There wasn't much on the line, and all I really wanted out of that pool was the invite, so I walked away with that and the $75 in store credit.

All of the decks I played against in this tournament are favorable matchups, with my loss actually being against my best matchup. In game two I kept a one-lander on the draw and never saw a second land, and in game three I drew 13 lands and just never really got anything going.

I had an early Tasigur in game three, but my opponent left in Chained to the Rocks and got me. I had boarded out some enablers for my Drown in Sorrows and I might have been better off just boarding out Tasigur. Lesson learned.


Sultai Control is an interesting matchup, as they have similar tools to UB Control but generally draw fewer cards, making it easier to overpower them in many situations. There were a lot of points where I had to sweat through Dig Through Time and even an Interpret the Signs, scrying three to the bottom and revealing a land, but my deck wasn't completely on for this round either.

My match against Eric was extremely tough, with Eric being my pick for best Minnesota player who hadn't already won a PTQQ.

Game three was tense, and it came down to a situation where I had a Soulflayer imbued with the keywords of Sagu Mauler and Chromanticore against Eric's Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver on five loyalty with no creatures under it.

On my turn I chose to attack Eric down to 11, opting to hope that Ashiok missed and I could kill Eric before he could find an Ugin. On Erik's turn, he plussed Ashiok to seven and hit a Chromanticore.

Awkward.

At this point I would have to attack Ashiok for two turns to stop it from creating Chromanticore and trading with my Soulflayer. It was at this point where I drew the literal perfect Torrent Elemental. I attacked Eric down to 7, leaving him dead on board with my Elemental tapping down anything he could put in my way.

He then bricked, and I was elated.

Going Forward

The maindeck feels like it's exactly where it needs to be. If there's a lot of control in your metagame, I would switch the Murderous Cuts and the Thoughtseize around, but the current configuration gives the deck the best odds against what I have experienced to be the metagame at large.

You can balk at the Scout the Borders if you like, but I think that it just makes sense here and am not sold on putting anything else in that slot.

I fully intend to continue jamming this deck until rotation kills it, and I recommend picking it up if you want to attack Standard from a unique and powerful angle.

Just remember that sequencing is everything. Using fetchlands to thin your deck doesn't do much when you only draw one card a turn, but when you mill aggressively like this deck does, it can actually make a significant difference to crack your fetches early and often.

It's also important to leave up two black mana as your last mana in case your Communes and Tormenting Voices leave you wanting to make a Soulflayer.

Don't be afraid to make those guys without any keywords either. It's easy to get blinded by the potential upside, but a 4/4 for BB would be an absurd card to print, too.


The Revokers probably aren't good and I'd cut them from the sideboard. I'd put in one copy of two of the following three cards:

I'm currently leaning against Phoenix, and Sage might just be unnecessary. The constellation deck isn't super-popular and they're really only beating you with Ugin anyway. Sage is good against Temur Ascendancy combo and random enchantment-creature-heavy decks, but, again, these aren't very popular.

Financial Implications

Previously, I was of the opinion that Tasigur was too steep to pick up in the short term. The truth is I can't imagine the card really going down before you'll need them to play if you grind PTQQs, IQs and the like.

I paid the gold price for my three, but I don't like it as a spec just yet. There will be a month when the card cools down and you'll be able to get them cheaper.

I like the idea of putting a second Torrent Elemental in the sideboard, but it strikes me as a horrible spec. Its applications are very fringe, and I can't imagine needing four in any deck ever. You might make some money if it drops in the $1 range, but it's pretty appropriately priced currently, if not slightly overpriced.

~

Chromanticore Delve is the deck I've had the most fun playing Standard with for as far back as I can remember. The deck does cool things, it's consistent, and it's powerful.

If you like putting non-believers on tilt, it's great for that, too. There's really something here for everybody.

If you are a believer yourself, then I wish you the very best of luck.

Thanks for reading.

-Ryan Overturf
@RyanOverdrive on Twitter

3 thoughts on “Insider: I PTQQ’d with Chromanticore (And So Can You!)

  1. I’ve been playing this deck for about a week and agree that it really wants to be core black/green. Have you considered flipping out the Tormenting Voices, Mountains, and Bloodstained Mires for Sultai Charms, Islands, and Polluted Deltas? Yes, you tick up 1 CMC on the curve. But in exchange, you gain instant speed, better draw (draw/discard instead of discard/draw), two additional modes (one of which can also free up Reclamation Sage’s sideboard slot), and Sagu Mauler and Torrent Elemental become easier to hardcast.

    Also, I don’t understand your choice of Debilitating Injury for the sideboard. I know you want it for speed and because Commune can pick it up, but wouldn’t it be better as a Bile Blight or Hero’s Downfall?

    1. I’ve seen the base-Sultai lists and they’re interesting, but you lose a lot of speed going from Voice to Charm. There’s a reason that I’m not already running four Scout the Borders, which is arguably stronger for this deck than Sultai Charm. I also have had very little trouble casting Sagu Mauler with the current configuration, while I could see getting all five colors being a bit more difficult for the sultai-based shell. It’s something to consider, but I haven’t seen a good list of Sultai yet and I haven’t been able to configure one myself either.

      The Debilitating Injury kind of started as a joke, but then it just really worked with the deck. Being able to Commune for it is marginal upside, but it’s more for the fact that you want to be able to cast it on turn two and double black isn’t always a given. It could very well be better as Downfall or Blight, but I haven’t really found myself wanting for them. If I changed it to either it would be the blight, as killing something like double Monastery Swiftspear or Gobling Rabblemaster at instant speed would be great here. Downfall I don’t like as much, as we already do very well against large creatures and the planeswalkers that are good against us mostly do their damage on their first activation- Elspeth, Ugin, Liliana… It’s random upside against Ashiok, but that’s a very low impact plan against a bad matchup.

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