I did well with Jund Monsters at Born of the Gods Game Day this past weekend. Indeed, I think about 70% of my success on the day can be attributed to my deck selection, 20% to a case of the run-goods and 10% to sound play. First, though, let me go on a quick tangent about the deck I almost played: Red Devotion splashing black for 4x Rakdos’s Return.
The goal is to do the devotion thing with Burning-Tree Emissary, Boros Reckoner, etc and then destroy their hand with Rakdos’s Return as early as possible. I played just a small handful of games with it, for funsies, against a Bant Control/Planeswalkers list. In that particular matchup, the Rakdos’s Return deck was great. In addition to the big X spell, Fanatic of Mogis and Stormbreath Dragon are also strong against planeswalkers – not to mention Dreadbore. Losing to control sucks, and this list seemed specifically well-equipped to handle control. A deck that stomps a boot down on the throat of Sphinx’s Revelation is one of the good guys, in my book.
The deck feels sweet when it goes off; I will try playing it at FNM some time but for Game Day I decided that I didn’t want to spend the afternoon drawing the wrong number of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx or topdecking 2/2’s for 2 in tight spots. Green-Red Monsters was appealing, especially the combination of Domri Rade, Courser of Kruphix and scry lands. You get to be aggressive with big creatures that demand answers but you also have some avenues to keep the gas coming after the first few turns. Adding black for premium removal puts the whole thing over the top and breaks the mirror in particular.
What you gain by adding black: Removal, first and foremost. In the maindeck, I played 2x Dreadbore and 2x Putrefy. I actually had to look up Putrefy to make sure it was still in Standard; I feel like I haven’t seen that card around in a long time. Good thing I have some baller status full art copies. Hero’s Downfall is an option but the double-black mana cost might be pushing it. I never had trouble setting up Putrefy or Dreadbore mana. In the sideboard, you can jam whatever additional black removal you want: Ultimate Price, Doom Blade, Abrupt Decay, the list goes on and on.
On the creature side, black gets you Reaper of the Wilds. I’ve never thought Reaper looked very flashy on her face (it’s a chick, right? all these gorgons are chicks, I think) but she actually does a lot of work once she hits the table. She can’t be Mizzium Mortars’d, the scry ability synergizes with Domri Rade, and deathtouch makes her great in a fight – and Domri is a helluva fight promoter.
I don’t feel like I “lose” anything by going 3-color but there are, of course, some green and red cards that have to be dumped to make room, such as:
Ghor-Clan Rampager is a strong, multifaceted card but it’s an easy cut. The creature half of Rampager is replaced by Reaper of the Wilds and the combat trick side is replaced by the black removal spells. I realize I just said I needed to play multiple cards to replace the functionality of just one but c’mon, you see what I’m saying, don’t be an asshole.
Scavenging Ooze often appears as a two-of but I played zero. I didn’t see what it was going to be doing, unless it came down in the late game and became a 7/7 or something, and there aren’t too many graveyard decks around. The ooze might tag back in, though.
Xenagos, the Reveler: I’m not sure I believe this guy is that great. Is he ramping? Ramping to what? Your five-drop that you were going to play on-curve anyway? Multiple times, my GR opponents would cast a Xenagos, the Reveler and make a 2/2 that they’d have to leave on defense to chump a bigger threat. Like any planeswalker, he can go bananas if left unchecked for a couple of turns but I think making a 2/2 for 4 is not really in line with the maindeck’s plan. I played one in the sideboard but never drew it. Too bad, I had even made some custom satyr tokens.
Xenagos, God of Revels has been a one or two-of in a lot of lists. The card is obviously very good when it’s doing its thing but I generally wasn’t very afraid of it. The god has the potential to be a literal blank in many board states. That said, I am open-minded about XenaGod, we are still early in the life of this card.
Round 1 vs Green-Red Monsters: This one went according to plan – We both played out Polukranos, World Eaters and Stormbreath Dragons but I cast some black removal spells and ran him over. Opponent cast Xenagos, the Reveler a couple of times and it did almost nothing. (Record: 1-0)
Basic sideboard plan versus Green-Red Monsters: -4 Courser of Kruphix, +2 Dreadbore, +2 Ultimate Price. The spot removal is the whole point and Courser, while good, isn’t directly accelerating like Elvish Mystic and Sylvan Caryatid.
Round 2 vs Golgari Scavenge Aggro: Looking back across the entire day, this was the one match where I felt most imperiled. Opponent’s deck was faster at beating down than mine, with Lotleth Trolls, Dreg Manglers and removal to clear the way. He was also resilient against my own removal since he had multiple regenerators (Lotleth Troll, Varolz, the Scar-Striped, maindeck Golgari Charm). The creatures that I did kill, he could scavenge onto the next guy. Should have played Scavenging Ooze after all!
Game 1 was a bizarre affair, opponent ran wild with a Varolz, the Scar-Striped getting up to around 20 power via scavenge counters, with a Whip of Erebos in play granting lifelink. I drew plenty of running chump blockers as my Domri Rade ticked ever upward. While I was not dying, opponent climbed as high as 160 life. I created a Domri emblem and had a double-striking deathtouch Reaper of the Wilds to shut down his offense and I start swinging in for huge chunks with absurd emblem-powered monsters. I am well over halfway through my deck and both of my Putrefys are still in there, eventually one is revealed on the top (I had Courser of Kruphix) and opponent concedes game 1 since Putrefy can finally break through Varolz’s regeneration.
We only have about 10 minutes for games 2 & 3 so we’re both shuffling up pretty fast. I don’t recall what I sideboarded; it may have been -4 Elvish Mystic, +2 Dreadbore, +2 Golgari Charm. He has a good curve of attackers and removal to get game 2 in just a few turns. Game 3, we don’t get too deep before time is called and the match is a draw. If opponent had any sort of evasion, maybe Herald of Torment or even something like a Rogue’s Passage, he could have gotten me in that first game. (Record: 1-0-1)
Round 3 vs Blue-White Control: Game 1 is close, things go back-and-forth a bit and opponent lands an Aetherling, shifting into “kill you” mode. I manage to fog one Aetherling attack by forcing a blink in response to a Putrefy. I then resolve a Stormbreath Dragon and the race becomes pretty tight. Opponent gets into a difficult position with the number of cards in his hand (with Stormbreath Dragon’s monstrous ability looming) and the number of Aetherling activations he chooses to sink mana into. Ultimately he needs to cast a Supreme Verdict without being able to first blink out the Aetherling and I just barely get him.
I sideboard fully 10 cards: -4 Polukranos, World Eater, -4 Mizzium Mortars, -2 Putrefy, +2 Sire of Insanity, +1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, +1 Rakdos’s Return, +2 Dreadbore, +2 Golgari Charm, +1 Xenagos, the Reveler, +1 Chandra, Pyromaster.
Game 2, I have a Sire of Insanity in my opening hand; I then reveal the second copy to some effect, a Courser of Kruphix, I think. So opponent knows I have one Sire of Insanity at that point, but he doesn’t know I have two. I feel incentivized to cast the first one into any amount of open mana/cards so I do, and it gets Dissolved. On my next turn I get to resolve the other Sire of Insanity. Even though my opponent does topdeck a Detention Sphere in short order to remove the Sire, I’ve gotten far enough ahead to close it out. (Record: 2-0-1)
Round 4 vs Green-Red Monsters: Opponent is 3-0 and is a little bummed that we can’t just draw but he’s a cool dude and isn’t a turd about it or anything. As in my round 1 match against Green-Red Monsters, I cast some black removal, sided in even more black removal for game 2 and took it without much fuss. (Record: 3-0-1)
Round 5 vs Red-White Midrange: Opponent was undefeated after 3 and had ID’d last round, so we’re now both 3-0-1 and ID into Top 8. He wants to play for funsies and I’m happy to do so. I came to game, after all! His deck was full of big, powerful cards such as Aurelia, the Warleader and Aurelia’s Fury as well as a selection of unorthodox one and two-ofs that would catch anybody by surprise. For example, while you’re trying to figure out what to do about his Assemble the Legion, he might jam Spark Trooper + Boros Charm for double strike and kill you out of nowhere. We each won a couple games and then waited around for Top 8 pairings. (Record: 3-0-2)
Quarterfinals vs Red-White Midrange (R5 Opponent): Nice that we got a chance to playtest the matchup a little, haha. Game 1, my variety of 4+ toughness creatures were good against his Anger of the Gods, and Stormbreath Dragon is good against the white half of his deck. I did give up a Courser of Kruphix to block a Spark Trooper once, basically giving that creature away to absorb 4 damage – that’s an example of me just not knowing what I should be doing against this roguish deck. It seems kind of bad to give up my 2/4 with sweet abilities but against a burn deck it might be correct?
Sideboard plan: -4 Elvish Mystic, +2 Golgari Charm, +1 Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, +1 Dreadbore (I think?)
Game 2 he stumbled a bit, with no Mountain for his Chained to the Rocks so he had to spend multiple burn spells on individual creatures. I had a Ruric Thar, the Unbowed that he had to pay 6 life to remove, and a Stormbreath Dragon fought his Aurelia, the Warleader via Domri Rade to sew it up.
Semifinals vs Green-Red Monsters (R4 Opponent): For the third time in a row, the Green-Red matchup was a bit of a breeze. My hand always felt stocked with removal and nothing that he cast seemed scary. I think this was the first time I saw Xenagos, God of Revels all day, but it did nothing. It was a creature for a brief moment, but a removal spell turned off devotion and left XenaGod just sitting there.
Finals vs Mono Blue Devotion: These were strange games. For example, across 3 games I saw zero of the following cards from opponent’s deck: Cloudfin Raptor, Judge’s Familiar, Tidebinder Mage. I was lucky to dodge Tidebinder and fast fliers. Opponent also had to mull in at least 2 of the games, might have been all 3.
Game 1, I overloaded multiple Mizzium Mortars and had a Putrefy for a Master of Waves. Sideboard plan was: -4 Courser of Kruphix, -2 Dreadbore, +2 Gruul Charm, +2 Golgari Charm, +2 Ultimate Price. The Courser of Kruphix is a juicy Domestication target for the Mono-Blue deck, so I think it’s good to just cut them.
Game 2, my hand was weird and threat-light, but I was enticed by the presence of multiple sideboard cards so I kept it. It was something like Gruul Charm, Gruul Charm, Golgari Charm, plus lands and a mana guy. I even started to write it down because I was thinking, “I’m going to want to look back on this keep later and think about it.” but then I thought, “Don’t be a donk and write down your opening hand right here in the middle of a match just because you want to talk about it on your shitty website.” so I may be misremembering some of the specifics of the hand. It was a bad keep, is the point. I know I whiffed on several Domri Rade +1’s in the game before finally dying to some unblockable attackers courtesy of Thassa, God of the Sea.
Game 3, I got on board with a monster early but opponent had some tempo plays – bounce this, counter that – to keep me off of a game-ending threat for a while. I eventually found a Stormbreath Dragon and got there.
I was pretty stoked to win the playmat, even though we all sort of agreed that the art was not the coolest: a bunch of angry minotaurs, rawr! The full-art Pain Seer looks dope, though. I arbitrarily jam every full-art Game Day card I get into my cube, regardless of whether the card is any good or not. For example, I have Cryptborn Horror in my cube, solely because I think the full-art version looks rad.
Going forward, I don’t want to change much about the deck. The Ultimate Prices would have been better as Doom Blades in this particular tournament but it’s probably just dumb luck that I didn’t encounter any Desecration Demons on the day. Speaking of Desecration Demon, I could try playing that instead of Reaper of the Wilds, or maybe a 2-2 split. I am also a stupid idiot so I would like to try Underworld Cerberus in there or maybe even a maindeck Sire of Insanity.