It’s eight AM. I drag myself out of bad, get dressed and grab my bag. Inside I have a play mat, some dice, and a silly take on 8 Rack. I’m on my way to go pick up eight other Oshawa Magic players and friends of mine to make our way to Toronto to play in the FaceToFaceGames.com Modern Open. I’m feeling rather melancholic today after an extremely mundane week at work and my deck performing fairly poorly at the last few events I brought it to.
The night before I made some last minute changes to the deck. I increased my land count and number of discard spells. Regardless, as I register my deck, I continue to ask myself why I’m playing given a recent string of bad luck. And proceed to take down round one. I then take round two. As my mood improves I continue to win more matches. I think to myself, as my mood and optimism improves, is this really how I’m finally going to top 8 after countless hundred plus person Face to Face events? Yes, yes it is.
With a final record of six wins and one loss I make it into the top 8. I made it there with a deck I keep being told is tier two at best. I am running a few cards I was told not to run. But I made it into top eight. I end up losing in my quarterfinals match with two loses and one win to Kiki-Chord. Overall I’m just glad I made top eight.
I wish I could take full credit for the deck but I cannot. My build started off using Mike Penner’s “Nearly Top 8” Rack build from this year’s Grand Prix Vancouver. Another Durham Region Magic player by the name of Mike Mav turned me onto the idea of abusing Flagstones of Trokair. While this exact build is my own list, credit for the idea goes to these two players. I already had the Flagstones of Trokair for another brew I’m currently working on so I decided there was no harm in trying. And I haven’t looked back.
Without further ramblings here is the list I ran today:
All in all, I’m overjoyed with how smoothly the deck ran. Casting turn two Smallpox off an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and a Flagstones of Trokair feels amazing. Using Funeral Charm to remove a potential sorcery speed kill on my opponent’s draw step won me multiple games. My only logic for running four Raven’s Crime was the fact I was short one Liliana of the Veil. In the future I will be swapping that fourth Raven’s Crime for a fourth Liliana of the Veil. I also think I will be cutting the Death’s Shadows in the future.
Round 1: Grixis Death’s Shadow 2-0
I started off the day with in an unfortunate incident. I was playing against a friend. Round one is no place to intentionally draw so we play it out. I lose the die roll for play/draw and keep a respectable hand. Some back and forth happens with discard spells and he ends up taking my Ensnaring Bridge out of my hand. The next turn he casts a Tasigur, the Golden Fang. I end up taking one swing from his Tasigur, the Golden Fang before top decking my Smallpox. I get two “rack” effects on board and the match closes out quickly as Raven’s Crime and other discard spells keep his hand empty.
Round 2: Bant Spirits 2-0
One again I start the game on the draw since I lost the die roll. The game starts off with Mausoleum Wanderer stopping an Inquisition of Kozilek. Turn 2 my opponent let a Raven’s Crime make it through since he didn’t fall for my bait and switch. I was holding up an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and a Thoughtseize. I was sure he was trying to conserve creatures, so I play the Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth and the Thoughtseize. It promptly gets countered by the Mausoleum Wanderer. Turn three my opponent plays a third land and passes the turn. Hoping my opponent had no answer I cast a Wrench Mend to bring his hand from three cards to one and make the Racks I intend on playing next turn live. I played directly into a Spell Queller. I take 2 hits from Spell Queller while trying to kill it with Smallpox. My opponent saved it with a Rattlechains. I stop him in his place the next turn with a well-timed Ensnaring Bridge off my top deck.
Game 2 my opponent got stuck on one land for some time and it ended up costing him the game. He opens up with a Leyline of Sanctity. a Breeding Pool and a Mausoleum Wanderer. I play a Shrieking Affliction and accept the fact I’m about to take some damage. He follows up with a Noble Hierarch and I take 2 damage off of the Mausoleum Wanderer. My turn I play a Flagstones of Trokair and use Collective Brutality to kill the Mausoleum Wanderer. My opponent doesn’t find anything he can cast on his draw step so he swings with the Hierarch. Turn 3 I play a Ghost Quarter, a rack effect and send him back to turn 0 with Smallpox. My rack effects make short work of my opponent as he struggles to find land.
Round 3: Revolt Zoo 0-2
I’m getting excited because at this point my deck hasn’t performed this well in over a week. This match was over less than fifteen minutes later. Game one I see Experiment One into Burning-Tree Shaman. My opponent went wide faster than I could remove his hand. I never find an Ensnaring Bridg. Four turns later we’re on to game 2.
Game 2 starts with me casting double Smallpoxes. This ends up costing me the game. If I had an extra Swamp available I could have used Extirpate to exile his Kird Apes. This would have saved me 6 damage since the turn I would have used Extirpate on his Kird Apes he top decked a second one. Kird Ape and Experiment One quickly closes out the game. This is my first and only loss in the Swiss rounds.
Round 4: Jund Death’s Shadow 2-0
I find myself facing down the current Boogeyman of the format this round. Fortunately this is a good match. Game one is hardly worth mentioning. My opponent gets stuck on one land and never finds a second. Game two he gets land and it is a little more interactive. Unfortunately for him it takes some time to get a Death’s Shadow online and he never gets Tarmogoyf above three power. This gave me enough time to strip his hand, play Ensnaring Bridge and get both Shrieking Affliction and the rack online. My opponent is forced to Abrupt Decay my Shrieking Affliction to attempt to live long enough to get through my Ensnaring Bridge. Luck wasn’t in his favour as there was another rack effect on my top deck.
Round 5: Grixis Death’s Shadow 2-1
Game one I quickly realize what I’m playing. Turn one he cycles a Street Wraith then takes Ensnaring Bridge out of my hand with a Thoughtseize. I decide to cast an Inquisition of Kozilek instead of a Thoughtseize in hopes my opponent doesn’t have a Gurmag Angler or a Tasigur, the Golden Fang in his hand. Unfortunately not only does he have the Gurmag Angler in hand he has enough fodder in his hand to delve into it turn two. I take the only legal target for Inquisition of Kozilek and prepare to face down a Gurmag Angler. Lingering Souls buys me a few turns but in the end Gurmag Angler takes the game.
Game two Smallpoxes and Wrench Mind empty his hand while keeping Tasigur and Death’s Shadow off the board. I still never see an Ensnaring Bridge but my racks and discards kill him before he gets another creature on board.
Game three I get a rack on board very quickly and ride it to victory. Again I empty his hand very quickly as he mulliganed down to 5 cards. Eventually he casts a Liliana, the Last Hope and aggressively minuses it looking for creatures. Instead he mills away his Kolaghan’s Command that would have saved him.
Round 6: Mardu Burn 2-1
This round and the next one, I end up playing against two more players from my local meta. The first one was on Mardu Burn. Any Burn variant is a stressful match. Eidolon of the Great Revels is a nightmare card and the deck can just win out of nowhere. All three games are awful grind matches. Game one I narrowly get the win through multiple Smallpoxes keeping him off the right mana to get any damage through.
Game two I think I got him with a Death’s Shadow. I wait for my life to get under twelve so his Eidolon of the Great Revel will bring my Death’s Shadow out of Lightning Bolt range. Instead I find myself staring down two Eidolon of the Great Revels and a Monastery Swiftspear. Death’s Shadow can’t punch through that board state and burn takes game two.
Game 3 started with my opponent getting stuck on land. I keep an opening hand after a mulligan to six with a Swamp, a Flagstones of Trokair, The Rack, Inquisition of Kozilek, 1 Wrench Mind and a Small Pox. It’s greedy and I know it but I kept it. I do my scry and see an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. This goes turn one Inquisition of Kozilek into turn 2 Smallpox with Flagstones of Trokair. My opponent’s hand empties quickly and I get multiple rack effects on the board. I end the match with draw step Funeral Charms and get the round.
Round 7: Naya Burn 2-0
This round is another burn match against another friend. He’s at thirteen points I’m at fifteen. A win puts either of us into top 8 and we can’t draw. It’s an unfortunate situation but we have to play. Game one starts with me keeping him off everything except a Goblin Guide I’m hoping will put me into a third land since I kept a Swamp and a Ghost Quarter. Our hands empty quickly and Goblin Guide draws me into a Swamp. Racks, Liliana of the Veil and Raven’s Crime gets me game one.
Game 2 my opening hand starts off with 2 Swamps 2 Wrench Mind, 2 Inquisition of Kozilek, 1 Funeral Charm. I Shred my opponent’s hand immediately and stick Liliana of the Veil on the board long enough to get some racks in play.
Quarterfinals: Kiki Chord 1-2
Game one is an awkward grind fest. I quickly lock out the board with Ensnaring Bridge, Liliana of the Veil and Lingering Souls. A Noble Hierarch starts making my life difficult until I manage to kill it with a Funeral Charm. The match ends with The Rack and Lingering Souls draining his life down while he gained life off Scavenging Ooze. Game 2 I got overwhelmed by creatures very, very quickly. Game 3 was longer. Rest in Peace shut off his Eternal Witnesses while I found Ensnaring Bridge. In the end the fact I couldn’t Extirpate his first Noble Hierarch ended up costing me the game. I lost to Noble Hierarch swinging in until the game was over.
Overall, as stated before, the deck performed well. Most of the issues I faced were to me misplaying. I feel the Death’s Shadows in the sideboard would be better as other cards. I may possibly cut them for Flaying Tendrils or even Phyrexian Unlife. I’ll be Writing a primer on this list with more card choices and an in depth sideboard guide shortly. Be sure to watch for it.
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