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Variance and Winning a Black Lotus

March 28, 2011

Ever since I made my top 8 finish at Starcitygames.com open 5k in KC earlier this year my magic playing has for some odd reason dropped off drastically.   My local playgroup and I made it to SCG Indianapolis and SCG Memphis and other than those events I only attended two FNM’s, one standard and one draft.

SCG Indianapolis was the first event after Besieged went legal and Kuldotha Red was everywhere.  There were some terrible infect decks and Tezz decks but overall the meta was a train wreck. I played a deck I thought looked amazing (Note: this deck is sick for the current metagame) at the time but was wrong for that event.  I played U/B Control with a heavy emphasis on black and played Go for the Throat, Abyssal Persecutor, Jace TMS, and Gatekeepers.  It’s a sweet deck for sure but I went 3-4 while my buddy David Barani managed a top 32 finish.

Memphis… oh man what in the world… I have never hit such a brick wall of variance in my life.  In the standard open I went 0-2-2 and then went 0-1 in both draft opens.  Each match I drew all the wrong cards and I got top decked out of at least 5 games.  Like sick one outer top decks.  I wrote it off though cause I knew my deck was amazing.  The deck I piloted was a W/G Vengevine deck with Mystics and all the works and it was way better than the other G/W lists running around.  No gimmicks and no bad cards just mono-gas all the time.  I was stunned at how bad I did while random mono-green infect decks started 5-0.  One thing I know about magic is that you can’t win them all.  I just told myself that all the run bad meant a good streak was coming.

Since the Starcitygames.com Invitationals now feature Legacy I realized I need to start playing that format.  I’ve been thinking about the format a lot but I don’t own cards and there is not much of a legacy scene at my local shop.  My playgroup scouted out some local events including some Legacy for Power and I decided I’d try to attend one.   Looking over my options I could drive 3 hours for a Legacy event that was offering a Timetwister or I could travel 1 hour and play Standard for a Black Lotus…. hmmm let me think… Lotus obviously.

For the Lotus event I decided to run my G/W Vengevine list with some minor updates.  The U/B Abyssal list is probably a stronger deck but I don’t own Jaces and didn’t think I’d have time to borrow them before the event.  Thanks to David Barani for loaning me about every card in the G/W deck by the way.  Anyways anyone reading this probably wants the list:

4x Vengevine
4x Birds of Paradise
4x Fauna Shaman
4x Stoneforge Mystic
4x Squadron Hawks
4x Nest Invader
1x Acidic Slime
1x Molten-tail Masticore
1x Baneslayer Angel
1x Sun Titan

2x Garruk
2x Gideon

1x Sword of F&F
1x Sword of B&M
1x Mortar Pod

4x Stirring Wildwood
4x Razorverge Thicket
3x Sunpetal Grove
4x Tectonic Edge
4x Plains
6x Forest

SB:
2x Natures Claim
1x Viridian Corrupter
1x Sunblast Angel
1x Baneslayer Angel
1x Linvala
2x Journey to Nowhere
2x Ratchet Bomb
2x Safe Passage
3x Kor Firewalker

So on the the Lotus event I went with this monster in tow and considering how poorly I did in Memphis I told my group that I am going to win this Lotus and honestly I was 100% dead serious.   Ended up a small event of only 40 people and I had 8 players from my playgroup attending.  One of us was obviously going to win.  40 players means 6 rounds swiss + top 8.

Round 1 – Mono Red Goblins – Die roll Lost
Squeak out the win over three games mostly on the back of Linvala and Baneslayers.  Firewalkers never did as much as I’d hope as they ended up stuck in hand until I could just cast Baneslayer anyways.

Round 2 – Esperblade – Die roll Lost
Win pretty easily in three games mostly due to the opponent keeping 2 landers twice and then getting bottle necked on mana long enough for me to take a giant advantage.  Gideon is pretty fun against other Gideon decks :).

Round 3 – B/R Vampire – Die roll Won (I think)
Tough tough matches due to how fast they can be but I won in 2 games mostly on the back of key timed Tectonic Edges and SB Journey on Bloodghast.

Round 4 – G/W Quest – Die roll Lost
This round was slightly scary due to the fact my opponent was probably the best player in the room, David Saylor.  I know the guy from the STL Magic scene and I spent a bit of time at Nationals last year chatting with him as well.   I win over 3 games mostly due to him having slow quests and me having good SB for the match and drawing my SB cards.  Gideon Jura, Baneslayer, and Linvala all are big breakers when the game goes any length.  I knew these games might stall out but my spells were just better if I avoid a turn 2 Argentum Armor.

Round 5 – U/B Tezz – Die roll… who cares?
This round was against my buddy David Barani who in round 4 took an ID with another guy from our group. Both had to just win 1 of their next 2 rounds to lock in top 8 but still it was a risky call on their part.  I agree with doing that for your team mates though.  All that said since I was 4-0 I was a lock by taking the loss here and drawing the the final round so I just concede to my friend and he is a Lock at 4-0-1 regardless of next round.

Round 6 – Esperblade – Intentional Draw with a guy from our group Gonzo.

Final Record 4-1-1 Including an intentional loss and intentional draw… so pretty good.

Quarterfinals – Valakut – Die roll Lost
Worst match up possible.  For a brief moment when game 1 was looking grim I almost lost sight of this event being mine to win.  I literally had to mentally tell myself “Who care if I lose game 1, I’m going to win this round because I’m going to win this event”.   Since top 8 shared deck lists he knew about my secret tech Safe Passages but he didn’t play round it game 2 and I was able to turn Safe Passage into a victory.  Game 3 he just drew poorly while I put on a lot of pressure and won.

Semi Finals – U/B Tezz – Die roll WON!
This was against my friend David Barani again and this time we had to play for real.  I was glad to see him make it this far but sadly he’d not go any further as this was my event to win.  I win pretty crushingly over 2 games but I think there was a slight misplay on his part in game 1 that could have possibly won that game for him.  The match up is in my favor after boards due to my artifact removal and speed and game 2 showed that as well.

Finals!!!!  Esperblade – Die roll Lost
This was my round 2 opponent so we both knew each others deck pretty well and seeing deck lists didn’t hurt.. Really seeing decklist only helps me since my deck is quite straight forward while Esperblade has a lot of variation in counters and removal.  I was able to see he only played 2 DoJ and no Disfigure main and only 1 Condemn main.  I was able to accelerate out turn 3 Garruk, turn 4 Gideon both games pretty much and that’s all it really good.  The powerful cards in Caw-blade decks are Jace, Counters, Swords, DoJ, and Gideon.  When you trump all those plans with legend rules, artifact hate, and vengevines you tend to have a pretty easy match up.  This deck was designed to eat Caw-Blade decks and well…  WE GOT A LOTUS.

The deck is sweet but side-boarding is so brutal.  Most of the deck is really vital looking but with some practice and experience you learn you can take out Hawks, Stoneforges, Vengevines, Shamans and about every other “core” card you might expect to be main deck evergreens.   In reality you have to decide if you want to be more beat down or more control (which you can do) when boarding.  Also being on the play or draw makes a MASSIVE difference in how you should board.  If you choose to play this deck get some practice in side boarding for sure.

Standout cards:
Molten-tail Masticore  –  This creature is sooooooo amazing.  He single handed was able to win games and shut down complete decks.  You know how much trouble this guys is for Caw-Blade when you have 6 mana?  He’s also spot removal for Elf Lords, Shamans, Planeswalkers (best use), and represents a lot of damage very very fast.

Linvala – I had no idea this card would be so good.  It shut down Goblins pretty hard and was just a blow out against G/W quest.  Should have been in the main

Gideon Jura – I added him as a “seal of Gideon” but he turned out to be Gideon the 1 turn clock.  Forcing them to attack lets you just win back for the win 80% of the time.

Garruk Wildspeaker – This is the best Garruk deck I’ve ever played.  He’s is 100% what this deck want but since we have no card filtering running more than 2 might mean dead cards in hand which hurts this deck.  Still probably one of the best cards in the deck.

Thanks for reading,
Andrew

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