Attacking the Meta’s Mana: A Nats Qualifier Report – Top 12

Hello everyone. My name is Kenny Fung and I’ve been playing MTG for about 3 years. This report is about the 3rd Regionals (aka National Qualifiers) I’ve ever been to and my only invitation to Nats to date. A week ago, I hadn’t given much thought to which deck to play. I’m not the greatest Standard player out there so I knew that if I played something of the current meta, the more experienced players would know how to work around it. I had played Jund last year before Jund was Jund, and I didn’t feel like playing it again. I figured that if I didn’t want to play something that everyone was familiar with, I would play something that surprised them.

I went through multiple deck ideas with that intention. The first idea was Summoning Trap with the Wall of Omens/ Overgrown Battlement as the mana engine, but it was way too random and usually didn’t hit the intended creatures. After throwing a few bad deck ideas around, Barry, a friend of mine, pointed me to a decklist of Billy Moreno’s the day before Nats Qualifier:

Aggro Spread’em (V.2)

1 Acidic Slime
4 Bloodbraid Elf
2 Goblin Ruinblaster
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 Lotus Cobra
2 Mold Shambler
4 Nest Invader
2 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Resounding Wave
2 Roiling Terrain
4 Spreading Seas
2 Forest
4 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
4 Raging Ravine
3 Rootbound Crag
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Tectonic Edge


3 Marisi’s Twinclaw
3 Cunning Sparkmage
2 Basilisk Collar
3 Chain Reaction
2 Mind Control
1 Regress
1 Roiling Terrain

MANA DENIAL OUT THE YING YANG. According to Barry, this deck had my name written all over it because of one card: Acidic Slime. Sure, it’s a singleton, but blowing up lands is one of my favourite thing to do, and Acidic Slime is my favourite card to do it with. I instantly fell in love with this 75. Ruinblasters, Mold Shamblers, Roiling Terrains and Tectonics, is there anything better? What surprised me is the tech: a full playset of Resounding Waves. Bouncing tri-lands as well as man-lands is such a huge setback, especially for Jund. Lotus Cobra gave me the power to pay its cycling cost at an early stage (and believe me, it saved me a couple of games). I stayed up quite late reading and re-reading Moreno’s article on how to play and sideboard against the current meta (I’d like to point out that in the same article, he also made a Walls deck intended to power out an Eldrazi house. Oh, how I like his style!) Anyways, the morning of, I was quite nervous, since I hadn’t play tested AT ALL with the deck. I borrowed some last minute cards from the team (we were about 15 people in Team Chex), bought new sleeves, re-sleeved the whole deck and, after dropping about half of it, proceeded to my first match up.

Round 1 vs. James Kohos with Threaten deck

Game 1:

The guy across from me had a friendly face and was quite talkative. I won the die roll and leading off with a turn 2 Nest Invader. He plopped down a turn 2 Bloodthrone Vampire, and at that point, I knew that he wasn’t playing anything competitive. This matchup caught me off guard with Pawn of Ulamog out and my creatures kept getting stolen with Act of Treasons and Mark of Mutinies, sacrificed to Bloodthrone Vampire and him getting 0/1 Eldrazi Spawn tokens which kept chumpblocking my newer threats. After a few turns, he ran out of Threaten cards but Consuming Vapors kept my side from overpowering his while keeping his life afloat. I started getting frustrated until I top decked a Resounding Wave while I had a Lotus Cobra on the field with a fetch land in hand. I had enough mana to cycle Resounding Wave, which quickly bounced Pawn of Ulamog and Bloodthrone Vampire back to his hand. I proceeded to beat face with my two drops and top decking more threats in the form of Mold Shambler and Bloodbraid Elf. I finally won at a precious 3 life.

Game 2:

I had no idea how to side against him, and he hadn’t revealed Bazaar Trader yet. I thought of taking out the Spreading Seas because all he played were basic lands: Swamps and Mountains. I also thought about bringing in Cunning Sparkmage and/or Basilisk Collar, since I figured he’d play some burn and I didn’t want to get stuck at 3 life again. I ended up not siding anything at all. He began the match with a turn 2 Bazaar Trader. My turn 2 Nest Invader was quickly Marked and donated to him. I really don’t remember much of this game, except that I stuck a Jace, unsummoned my/his Nest Invader, replayed it and beat his face with it. A few turns later, my Bloodbraid was Treasoned with a Pawn of Ulamog, 2 Bazaar Traders, and a Bloodthrone Vamp out on his side. In response, I bolted his Bloodthrone Vampire, which he responded by sacrificing a Bazaar Trader. I responded fast by playing a second bolt on his Vamp, causing him to forget about Pawn of Ulamog’s trigger. “Damn” he said, “that would be six damage on him, right?” “Yep” I said. He let his Vamp die (forgetting Ulamog’s trigger again) and donated the Elf to himself. I chumpblocked it with a Spawn token, and on my turn, Unsummoned the Elf with Jace, replayed it and continued to beat face for the rest of the game as he ran out of gas.

2-0-0 Match, 1-0-0 Round

Round 2 vs. Sebastien Paquin with Jund

Game 1: I sat down across from an opponent who apparently beat KYT and Adrian (another veteran in Team Chex) in some other event. He won the die roll, but mulled to 6 cards. He dropped a first turn Savage Lands which revealed Jund, a VERY favourable matchup for this deck. He played a turn 2 Putrid Leech while I played a turn 2 Nest Invader. Nest Invader is ABSOULUTELY NUTS against Jund, because on turn 2 it serves as a chumpblocker against Putrid Leech, which forces him to pay life to pump it, all the while not slowing your mana accel for a turn 3 Bloodbraid Elf or whatnot. Anyways, he swung with the Leech and I quickly blocked with the Invader. He had to think for a second before pumping it and passed the turn missing his third land drop. I drew a Spreading Seas, played a Lotus Cobra, then a land while floating blue, tapping the land to play the Spreading Seas. I kept drawing Spreading Seas, and after a few turns, he had four lands, three of which were now Islands. His Leech was the only creature on his side which eventually had to block without a pump to keep himself alive. I quickly overran him with 2/2s and 2/1s.

Looking back, I’m not sure if I gave enough thought of blocking a turn 3 attacking Leech with my Invader. I’m sure I had a Spreading Seas in hand which convinced me that it was the right choice as I would be able to quickly shut down his mana. Leave a comment with your thoughts or suggestions.

Game 2: Following Moreno’s article, I sided out the Jaces, as the Jaces were way too vulnerable to BBE, Lightning Bolts and Maelstrom Pulses. He also suggests to side out the Oracles but I find that they have insane synergy with Cobras to allow for a faster start than Jund. Instead I took out the Mold Shamblers and replaced them with Regress, Mind Controls and Roiling Terrain. This time, he mulled to 5 as I kept my 7. Game 2 started in a similar fashion, with him playing a turn 2 Leech and me, a turn 2 Seas on his Savage Lands. He failed to find another mana source and I quickly accelerated into a ton of threats again: something along the lines of a Magical Christmas Land turn 3 Lotus Cobra, land, Nest Invader, turn 4 Lotus Cobra, fetchland, crack it floating a ton of mana, Oracle of Mul Daya, play another land, Resounding Wave his Leech. He scooped up his cards and shrugged off his bad luck as he gave me the hand shake. It was a shame that he was forced to keep such sub-par hands, but I was happy with the win.

2-0-0 Match, 2-0-0 Rounds

Round 3 vs. Brad Fisher with Mythic Bant

Game 1: Off to Round 3. He won the die roll and played a turn 1 Noble Hierarch. Upon seeing this, I knew that this was going to be a tough round. Bant was a hard matchup for his deck since Bant had about 12 early creatures that could produce mana so the mana denial wouldn’t do much. I had a Cobra and Nest Invader out when he played a turn 4 Baneslayer Angel. On my turn, I drew a Resounding Wave which I thought could slow him down so I passed back the turn. He swung for 6 lifelink damage (exalted from Hierarch), I panicked and used the Resounding Wave on the flyer. He simply replayed it and passed. I didn’t draw another form of bounce for the rest of the game and the BSA did me in. My first loss of the day.

In retrospect, I’m sure I couldn’t have cycled the Resounding Wave in the amount of time I was alive. HOWEVER, I should have taken 6 during the first attack and Resounding Waved at the end of his turn to save myself 2 turns of BSA. I guess I have to learn to not be intimidated in front of them, a weakness I possess (although they CAN turn the tables around quite drastically).

Game 2: I sided out the Roiling Terrains and Spreading Seas for the Sparkmage/Collar package. Sparkmage is key in this matchup, as Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch and Lotus Cobras all have 1 toughness, which is enough to shut them off long enough to win. I drew the nuts hand of 3 lands, Basilisk Collar, Lotus Cobra, Bloodbraid Elf, and Acidic Slime. I started off the game with a turn 1 Basilisk Collar, which got a “Really?” from Brad as he played a tapped land. I played a turn 2 Cobra, and he did the same. Turn 3 saw a BBE in to a Cunning Sparkmage, which got another “REALLY?!” He eventually played a BSA, but Sparkmage was already equipped and ready to snipe down some angels. He followed up with another BSA to replace the first, with a shake of his head. “I’m guessing he’s not going to last long” he said. With the Sparkmage gunning down his entire team, the match ended shortly after.

Game 3: This game was just like Game 2, but instead of BSAs, I saw a Gideon hit the battlefield. We both started with man-lands, him with Stirring Wildwood and me with Raging Ravine. He plopped down a turn 2 Noble Hierarch while I had a turn 2 Nest Invader. A Cobra landed on his side of the field but he had no tricks to go along with it. Nothing really interesting happened other than Draw, Swing, Go between the both of us until a Gideon plopped down and forced my creatures to attack it. I top decked a Sparkmage which hastily got rid of the snake and I had a relatively open invitation to Gideon. I forget exactly what I had on the board, only that he decided not to block with his Hierarch, which got Gideon down to 2. On his turn, he decided not to swing with Gideon for a potential 7 damage (my creatures were tapped out), but instead used Gideon for a final Fog effect. I untapped, used the Sparkmage to kill his remaining Hierarch, swung the rest of my creatures at Gideon and successfully wiped his board. He didn’t play anything else on four lands and gave me the handshake a few turns later.

2-1-0 Match, 3-0-0 Rounds

I was REALLY lucky to get a first turn Basilisk Collar and then cascading into a Sparkmage in Game 2, as I had no other way of solving 2 Baneslayers. I never got to see if he was playing the Mythic Conscription or Rafiq/Finest Hour deck, but it’s safe to say that any form of Bant against Spread’em is a bad sign.

Round 4 vs. Julien Berube with Jund

Game 1: He wins the die roll and you could imagine why I was dancing in my chair when I saw a first turn Savage Lands. He made the first play with a Putrid Leech, and I followed up with a Nest Invader. Next turn he hit me with the only Blightning I was going to get all day and I discarded two lands. He swung at me with a pumped Leech which got me down to 12 (I took 1 from a fetch). I played a Cobra, swung for 2 and passed the turn. He played a land and a BBE hitting a Sprouting Thrinax. He swung with the Leech and the Elf and I blocked the Leech with the spawn token. On my turn I got to play Magical Christmas Land again by playing another Cobra, fetchland, float 2 mana, crack fetchland, float another 2, play BBE into Resounding Wave boucing the Thrinax. Later in the game, he had 5 lands out, two of which were islands, a Lavaclaw Reaches, a forest, and the other a red source. He only had his Leech left while I had 6 mana (one which was a Ravine), a BBE, Cobra and Oracle. He was at 12 holding two cards and I was at 7 holding one. I didn’t want send all my guys into the red zone, for fear he had a Bolt in hand so I just activated my Ravine and hit him with it and the BBE, holding my Cobra and Oracle back for defence. He chose to take it and went down to 5. I think he was trying to top deck another Bolt or black source, but failed to find it, and I killed him next turn.

Game 2: This game was over quickly. I sideboarded the same cards as I did against Sebastien. He mulled to 6, but had no turn 2 Leech. I played a turn 2 Spreading Seas, which basically shut him down for the rest of the game. I then played a Cobra, then fetchland and Regressed a tapped land back to his hand. My Raging Ravine I played on turn 1 went the entire distance, getting bigger every turn.

2-0-0 Match, 4-0-0 Rounds

Round 5 vs. Nicholis Rahill with Jund

Game 1: Rahill is a friend of mine who I knew was playing Jund, and he knew that this matchup wasn’t in his favor. Jund is virtually a Bye for this deck, for Jund’s downfall is their shaky manabase. Preboard they have no mono colored cards under the cost of 4, so bouncing a CitP tapped land or turning them into islands really sets them back. I won the die roll and kept a nuts hand with two Spreading Seas, something practically impossible to come back from with Jund. After Spreading his lands, I kept swinging with 2 power creatures. He finally got a green and a black source to Maelstrom Pulse the Seas freeing his one red source, but I top decked a third Seas and turned it back into an island. He quickly scooped with what I believed to be a hand full of red cards.

Game 2: Once again I brought in the anti-Jund package. We both kept very slow hands, with me playing a turn 3 Cobra but it was Doom Bladed on the spot. Rahill had 3 Swamps out, the only 3 the deck has. I played a BBE (forgetting what I cascaded into). He played a Raging Ravine which was met with a Roiling Terrain, and at that point, he scooped again.

2-0-0 Match, 5-0-0 Rounds

It was unfortunate that nothing interesting happened. I would have loved to have a real match with a great player, and I look forward to a rematch at Game Day this weekend.

Round 6 vs. Simon Guérette with Polymorph

Game 1: This guy barely spoke a word during the entire time we were playing. He won the roll and proceeded to play a whole bunch of library fixing cards: Halimar Depths, Ponder, and See Beyond. He probably played about 6 of them before I naturally curved out into my creatures and killed him. But I did misplay (sort of) because of my over confidence. I had him down to 11 with a Cobra, Nest Invader and a Raging Ravine in play and two Bolts in my hand. He proceeded to See Beyond, place a card back into his library, shuffle and extended his hand as if to say ‘go’. I showed him the two Bolts in my hand and said “Game two?” to which he replied “Uh, I was asking if you wanted to shuffle my deck.” I felt like an idiot for rushing and gave his deck back without shuffling. He then played a Khalni Garden making a 0/1 blocker. I didn’t have enough mana on the board to play a Bolt and activate my Ravine in one turn, but I had to try. I played a Bolt on him at his end step, and fortunately top decked a fetchland. I floated two red, Bolted him again and activated the Ravine. He scooped before I attacked.

Game 2: I sided out the Roiling Terrains and Mold Shamblers for the Sparkmage package. Polymorph can only work by targeting 0/1 tokens, so landing a Sparkmage is pretty much game. And if he does manage to Polymorph into an Emrakul or Iona, a creature equipped with Basilisk Collar will hopefully threaten the last points of damage and the opponent will be forced to block with the fattie. Game 2 was almost an exact play-by-play rematch of game 1. He Pondered and See Beyond for most of his early turns, and even landed a Jace. The planeswalker with 3 loyalty counters on it was quickly met with a BBE flipping into a Basilisk Collar, which was quickly Negated. Both games ended with me being at 17 life from my fetches and him without playing a single Polymorph.

2-0-0 Match, 6-0-0 Rounds

Round 7 vs. Zack Spence with Polymorph

Zack and I decided to draw the next match so that both of us had a spot in the top 12 and nabbing the invite. He was a cool guy who didn’t mind sharing some of the plays he had during the day. We tested our decks against each other just to see how they fared against one another, but it was apparent that this deck wrecks Polymorph. By the time he had a turn 3 Awakening Zone, I blew it up with a turn 3 Acidic Slime. He brought in Flashfreezes, but they couldn’t handle the speed of the deck. After four games, decided he had enough beatings for one day. We wished each other luck at Nationals and parted ways.

1-1-1 Match, 6-0-1 Rounds

Round 8 vs. Joel St-Amour with Mythic Bant

Game 1: He offered to draw because I was paired down, but I chose to play it out in hopes of winning first place with the urge of some of my teammates. I had no idea what he was playing and my confidence got the better of me. I quickly found out that this was a really hard match up, with him leading off with a first turn Hierarch, second turn Cobra and Knight of the Reliquary. I had about 5 creatures on the board when he used his KotR and Hierarch to play a Birds of Paradise and an Elspeth, making a token. I couldn’t kill Elspeth with attacks, but luckily I had a Roiling Terrain in my hand with 4 lands in my opponents’ graveyard. I blew up a land and redirected the 5 damage to Elspeth to kill it. My opponent had to read the card for a while to see if it was legal before letting it pass. I kept blowing up lands until he had one left, but it pumped his KotR to an 11/11. He slapped down a Rafiq of the Many with his mana-producing creatures and one land, figured that I had too many creatures for an 11/11 KotR to break through and proceeded to kill me with a relatively unblockable flyer. The Birds kept hitting me for 6 a turn with a KotR ready to fetch a Sejiri Steppe for protection and I finally conceded as he stabilized at 4 life.

Game 2: I sided out the Roiling Terrains, Mold Shamblers and a couple of Spreading Seas for Mind Controls and the Sparkmage package. I had a quick start, with Nest Invader, Cobra, and Oracle out on turn 3, but it wasn’t enough to handle an early Baneslayer. I had revealed a Resounding Wave on the top of my library from Oracle with 5 mana open, so I played Spreading Seas on one of his lands, drew the Resounding Wave and passed the turn. He attacked with the BSA for 6 (exalted trigger) and I tapped the mana and played the Resounding Wave. At that moment, I knew I made a dire mistake, for he had all of his lands untapped, and I forgot that Bant most probably brought in Negates from the sideboard. He Negated the Wave, which left me with an empty hand. I attempted to race him by sending my team to the red zone which including a Raging Ravine, but he had blocked the man-land with a Lotus Cobra and playing a Harm’s Way, redirecting the next two arbitrary damage to the 4/4 Ravine, effectively trading creatures. I then attempted a Jace, but that was also met with a Negate. When I had to top deck a Mind Control, Wave, or another Jace to survive another turn, a Nest Invader sat at the top of my library, and I extended my hand for the concession.

0-2-0 Match, 6-1-1 Rounds

I ended up getting 9th place, winning a box of Rise, an invite to Nationals and lots of experience. It was a step up from my 40th place last Regionals, and 65th the year before that. I had a very fun time playing with the deck, and I give insane praise to Billy Moreno for thinking outside the box. It has a very hard time against anything that accelerates into Baneslayers, for there are only so many Resounding Waves in the deck and so many loyalty counters on Jace. Moreno believes that Oracle of Mul Daya should be sided out at times, but I find that it is a must if you want to keep up with accels, plus it has insane synergy with Lotus Cobra and Jace. I was sad to see his updated Aggro Spread’em list had axed out the Oracles and Mold Shamblers for some Sarkhan Vols and a full playset of Roiling Terrains. I was on the fence with Roiling Terrains, for I had them in my hand for a lot of the matches, only to play other creatures. It wasn’t until I had two-for-oned planeswalkers and lands that I saw more potential for this, although I still think a playset is a mistake. I hadn’t even touched the Chain Reactions in my side, and I can only assume they were there for Naya Allies, Boros Bushwacker, or Martial Coup decks. I had dodged all the Mono Red in the tournament, which got me disappointed that I didn’t get to see Marisi’s Twinclaws in action.

All in all, I believe that, with a little tweaking, this deck can be a real contender in the current meta. Hopefully attacking the opponents’ mana base is something that flies under the radar for the time being, and opponents will find that they have a hard time playing around it.

Update: I brought a tweaked Aggro Spread’em deck to Game Day this Saturday, a list without Jaces or Cobras, simply because I couldn’t borrow them off anyone. Instead, I had to make last minute replacements with a playset of Noble Hierarchs, 2 Garruks and a Sarkhan Vol. Since the mana accel was hindered without the Lotus Cobra, I had to take out the Mold Shamblers since they were too slow. I put in another Acidic Slime and the single Regress from my side. With 1 Chain Reaction missing from the side, I put in 2 Mul Daya Channelers, just because I had them. I finished 2-2 in 6th place out of 15 people, since my breakers were good (I played Adrian, who won 1st that day, and Rahill, who won 2nd). I have to say that Sarkhan Vol was amazing in the deck. A Nest Invader can turn into 4 points of damage. I remember one play against Rahill (who switched from Jund to Mythic Conscription that day) where he had a Birds of Paradise on the board, and tapped out 4 lands to play Jace the Mind Sculptor. He Brainstormed with Jace and passed the turn back to me. I had a Noble Hierarch and a Sarkhan Vol out, a Ruinblaster in my hand, 4 sources of mana but only 1 red source. I used Sarkhan’s ability to gain control of the Birds, used it to make an additional red source, played my Ruinblaster kicked destroying a land, and swinging with the exalted Goblin killing the Jace. That pretty much won me the game, although Rahill went on to win the matchup. I feel Sarkhan Vol is quite strong in the deck, and would consider playing some in main deck with Cobras for more insane alpha strikes.

If you want to check out Billy Moreno’s articles, they can be found in


Team Captain KYT for giving me some great advice and suggestions in between rounds, and for showing up and staying for the ENTIRE EVENT, even though he wasn’t playing.

Barry for knowing my style of play and introducing me to ‘the deck’. I hope those tacos were delicious.

Tom ‘Shakes’ Cheung for winning the whole thing. We should have played against each other, man.

Casselman and …*sigh*… Ivan for lending me those last minute cards. I owe you guys one.

And last, but not least: Billy Moreno, the genius behind ‘the deck’. Keep thinking outside that box.

If you ever want to drop by Checkswing to visit, just listen for the orgasmic moans of Alex Roger.

Thanks for reading,

Kenny Fung

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Well written Kenny. A good read!


I'll never forgot that jund guy. Pisses me off to no ends that my PTQ top 8 was lost because of his awesome luck. Seriously, topdecking the lethal blightning while you have no hand, no field, no manlands and are 1 swing away from death? [To make things worst, that was blightning #3 of the game).

or better yet, keeping a DUMB hand with no action at all with your first play being bit blast into bloodbraid into bolt followed by bit blast (ON A SAPROLING TOKEN DURING YOUR MAIN PHASE) into bloodbraid into stag. Then going sarkhan + broodmate in the following 2 turns. Really awesome jund player right there. QQ.

Anyways, having a hard time letting this go.

with that angry ramble aside, good article sir. Albeit i'm not sure I would recommend playing this deck anymore. There's a lot more UW running around now as well as mythic (which isn't a good matchup IMO, especially if you dont draw sparkmage+collar or they pop the collar with pridemage or an o-ring).

Also why are there 3 twinclaws in the sb? Seem's really random.


The Twinclaws are for Mono Red. Stops Hellsparks, Ball Lightnings and Goblin Guides in their path. They have to waste 2 burn spells to kill it, which is two less to your face. And attaching it to a Basilisk Collar is an eight point life swing, something Mono Red can't handle.

And I do agree to an extent. This deck has a very hard time against the best Standard deck right now, but hopefully with a little tweaking, it could adapt to the current meta while retaining the element of surprise. Sarkhan Vols seem very interesting to me right now, but I'm trying to find a sac outlet for them. Maybe Aether Tradewinds, or something. Anyways, we'll see.