Tag: azorius

Bruce Gray - March 25, 2014

Casual Encounters – UW Tempo (Standard Pauper)

 Wavecrash Triton

          I have never been a guy to quibble much over format.  I’ve mostly just played whatever I had in whatever deck I felt like building.  This can yield some very interesting and fun deck ideas, but it is really only practical if you play with your friends at the kitchen table.  However, sometimes, as an exercise to challenge yourself,  it is interesting to limit your deck building options and force yourself to do as much (or perhaps more) with less.

To this end, my friends and I are meeting for our monthly game.  We get together once a month and it is a collection of people from all the stages of my life.  Some of the players are guys I played with as a teenager, others are friends that I have made through playing Magic, while others are spouses or acquaintances I have made elsewhere.  It is a very eclectic group with some of them having all the top tier 1 competitive decks.  Others are very much interested in brewing with a small number of cards in order to keep the relative cost down.  This can result in some match-ups that just aren’t super fun as one guy plays a Legacy “Show and Tell” deck, while the other guy plays a random smattering of cards from the most recent set.

To level the playing field a bit and to make the evening a little different I challenged my friends to build Standard Pauper decks for this month.  In case you aren’t overly familiar, Pauper is a format that only uses common cards.  By limiting the cards even further by only allowing cards that would be Standard legal (Return to Ravnica and Theros blocks) we have limited the pool of options available and evened out the power level of the cards that can be played.

This is a relatively new experience for me as I have never consciously made a Pauper deck.  Sure, I have used common cards and tried to limit my choices, but I have never been one to purposefully limit my card choices so dramatically. Herein lies the challenge: build a deck that I feel can win without leaning on the cards that I come to rely on.  My friends all jumped at the suggestion and so it is ON! This weekend we will battle with Pauper!

The first dilemma when trying to build any winning deck is anticipating what you will be playing against.  If I were going to be playing at a Stadard event at a local game shop I would come prepared to play against all the top decks like Mono-Black, Mono-Blue, and G/R Monsters.  However, we have no meta…this is one off…and so I need to instead rely on my understanding of my opponents and what some of their tendencies are.

Some of the players will be wild cards.  They are relatively inexperienced players (even compared to me) and are likely to bring decks packed with creatures and just looking to turn sideways and smash.  This likely means inexpensive white, green, and red creatures and ramping into some sort of fatty that will be hard to deal with.  With those decks in mind, I will need to ensure I have access to enough removal to slow them down and give myself a chance to get into the game.

My friend David likes mill decks.  He likes to play B/U and will undoubtedly slide in some cards that are designed to force me to grind through my library.  He will also likely play hand destruction, so I need to come prepared for that.  If his mill cards are creatures, then I should be okay because my removal should be able to handle them too, so that isn’t a concern for me overly.  The bigger issue is seeing enchantments or artifacts that force the milling of my deck.  So, some enchantment destruction needs to be considered in order to close down this angle to some degree.  Hand destruction is tougher to deal with because I will need countermagic, but Duress on turn 1 totally ruins the hope of any counter spells, so I may hedge my bets and hope David goes for creatures and not hand destruction.

Sam is a terrific player but invariably will be running a U/x deck with a bunch of counter magic.  Sam is the quintessential control player and I expect nothing different.  This is always a troubling matchup and Sam is good at it.  So, if I can’t beat the control match up…I may have to join it. This is the matchup that I need to be most interested in performing well, so time to go to the old box of stuff and see what I can put together.

I start off with cards from the most recent set, Born of the Gods, and see what I can find.  Divine Verdict is a fine reprint of a reasonable removal spell.  Most creatures need to attack, and this gets rid of them and is a solid card.  Stratus Walk is another strong card.  It gives something flying, draws me a card, and is reasonably costed. The last addition is a little steep in terms of cost, but potentially a bomb.  Sphinx’s Disciple makes use of the Inspired ability, so for 5 mana (3 colourless and 2 blue) I get a 2/2 flier, but whenever it untaps I draw a card.  If I can protect this guy, it could be a real card draw engine.  Card advantage in this sort of game will be key and this could be just the ticket.

Next, I look at some options in Theros.  Prescient Chimera is one place to start that could be a pretty good bomb.  For 5 mana (3 colourless and 2 blue) I get a 3/4  flier that let’s me Scry 1 every time I cast an Instant or Sorcery.  As a 5 drop at the top of my curve this is pretty strong creature that allows me to draw into better cards as the late game continues.  It also works pretty well with Sphinx’s Disciple to set up the Inspired trigger to ensure that the extra card is more valuable to me.  Next I need to look at some enchantments and conclude that Chosen by Heliod is a solid, inexpensive Aura that is useful and pairs really nicely to help protect Sphinx’s DiscipleChosen By Heliod is also a very dynamic card with Wingsteed Rider to trigger the Heroic trigger. All in all, some good fodder for a viable Pauper deck.

The last additions to the deck are from Return to Ravnica block and include Lyev Decree. Lyev Decree is very interesting because it allows me to tempo my opponents out by rendering their creatures unable to block.  It is cheap and efficient and allows me to power through some extra damage.  Shielded passage is another interesting little twist that protects cards, either Sphinx’s Disciple, or enacts the Heroic trigger on Wingsteed Rider, and triggers the Scry on Prescient Chimera.  All three are very relevant abilities in this deck making Shielded Passage a very interesting card and neat combat trick.  The last creature is Keening Apparition which builds in a little enchantment destruction and a very reasonable 2/2 body.  This is in essence a “Bear” with a bonus and raises its appeal considerably.

Here’s the Decklist

 U/W Tempo – Standard Pauper

In building this deck I looked at a variety of things and considered what pieces went together.  I started with my curve looking to curve out into my powerful creatures and not miss out on any of the spots if I could help it.  There is no Turn 1 play, which is unfortunate, but I struggled to fit a solid 1 drop in this deck and opted to pass on it.  Turn 2 I can play Concordia Pegasus or Keening Apparition, at 3 there is Wingsteed Rider and Wavecrash Triton.  I almost stumbled at 4, but I noticed Runewing and immediately saw that it was a viable option with an upside.  I curve out at 5 with Prescient Chimera and Sphinx’s Disciple giving yet more flying threats.

The Spells really serve three purposes.  My first play is to try and straight up remove my opponent’s creatures from the battlefield with Divine Verdict or Last Breath. If that doesn’t work I can use Lyev Decree to slow them down and punch my own creatures through their defences. All the other spells are there to protect my creatures and to trigger Heroic abilities on my Wingsteed Rider or Wavecrash Triton, which can also serve the dual role of adding to the tempoing out of my opponent by tapping their creatures.

Overall, I think the deck looks pretty solid and like it may have a good showing this weekend when I sit down for my Casual Encounter with my pals.  If you have any suggestions, let me know as I would love to hear what you guys think.  I’ll also give you an update on how it fares and what adjustments I intend to make down the line.  I have really enjoyed this process and think that this may be something I continue to bring forward to my Casual Encounters to keep them fun and different.

Until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…and keep it Casual.

Bruce Gray


Bruce Gray - February 6, 2014

Casual Encounters – My Favorite Cards From Born of the Gods

My favorite Born of the Gods cards that have been spoiled

While all the spoilers were unrolling the last couple of weeks my friends and I were looking at the new treats we would get to play with.  Everyone had their own favorite…apart from Brimaz (aka the Lion King), because he’ll be ridiculously good and a standard all-star soon enough. I will go through my pick for best card for Mythic, Rare, uncommon and common slots .  You may not agree, but as with anything in Magic, anyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Mythic of choice:

The first card that caught my eye was one of the minor gods.  Mogis is cool. Xenagos could make G/R monsters absolutely insane and power out bananas monsters that crush EVERYTHING.  However, neither of these got me excited.  One of the gods fit exactly into a deck I already have built, but is missing something…and the fact that she was staring right back, like an answer to a prayer, was tremendous. What caught my eye was Ephara, God of the Polis.  While her ability looks a little underwhelming, for the casual player, she is a bomb and a can’t miss all star.  Here’s what got me excited.

A little over a year ago I wrote an article detailing what is in essence an Azorius deck where I push the detain ability just about as far as I can go.  The deck list is as follows:

Azorius Detain (casual)

Now, this deck list wants to do exactly what Ephara is looking for: play lots of dudes! And with this deck, everytime you do, you’ll be detaining a creature and slowing down your opponent.  The problem that this deck runs into is the need to replenish your hand and while it has ways to this, Ephara is the perfect card draw engine to make things work for you even faster. You’ll cast your guys, slow down your opponent, and then refill your hand with new weapons to tie up your opponent.

Now, people will tell me “Wait! This deck isn’t standard! What are you doing!”.  True…this is not a standard legal deck, but at its heart Magic is game designed to be fun and this casual deck is exactly that.  It is also a deck that I routinely run in a multiplayer free-for-all environment and can be very effective and can shut down the whole table for turns on end. Also, it could certainly be adjusted to be Standard playable and the detain ability is still perfectly valid.  So, for those Standard players out there, with little adjustment, Ephara could play a role for you too.

Basically, at its simplest, this becomes a solid addition to simple decks looking to drop lots of creatures to turn sideways and smash your opponent.  However, it combos really well with Heliod in the Standard environment, or any Bant populate deck (which could totally become a thing with Advent of the Wurm  still running around).  The quiet ability of drawing extra cards for playing creatures is terrific.  It rewards you for doing exactly what we all want to do: play dudes and let them fight.

Rare of choice:

As an avowed Bant (G/W/U) mage by choice, I am rarely excited by cards in Black.  However, in this set one card immediately got my attention.  Pain Seer jumped out at me for the quasi “Bob” wording. Basically, if you can get this guy tapped and then have her live long enough to untap you can build some massive card advantage off of her.

So, while I was at excited, the sheer fact that this card is printed it amazing.  However, couple it with Springleaf Drum now you are a) able to ramp b) tap your Pain Seer without combat and c) get yourself cards.  Imagine this in a Mono-Black Devotion deck.  Turn 1: play a Swamp, cast Springleaf Drum – Turn 2: play a Swamp, cast Pain Seer, tap Pain Seer, play Thoughtseize – Turn 3: untap Pain Seer, draw your card, play a Swamp, tap Pain Seer, tap your Swamps, cast Desecration Demon Turn 4: untap Pain Seer, draw your card, play a Swamp, tap Pain Seer, tap your Swamps, cast Gray Merchant…and you’re off to the races. I’m sorry…Mono-Black just got one more way to accelerate into stuff, draw more cards and frankly, be even scarier than it already was. If this excites me for the impact it could have in a game just imagine what someone who LIKES to play Black will do with it. One word comes to mind: Gross.

Uncommon of choice:

My uncommon is one that grants an ability I haven’t seen in a while.  Noble Quarry is a Bestow creature with Lure on it.  Now, Lure was a ridiculous ability from when I was just a wee lad playing and it was awesome.  I was always so proud of my Thicket Basilisk (the ORIGINAL Deathtouch creature) with Lure that would wipe the board clear.  However, now Lure (I mean Noble Quarry) is back and it is pretty sweet.

This fits nicely in G or G/R creature heavy decks and games where the board state has stalled a little.  This can happen in a multiplayer game because people just can’t force through enough damage to finish off an opponent.  Little Noble Quarry will quickly result in a blow out.  Bestow it on your Sedge Scorpion, or some other innocuous creature (although Deathtouchers are always the most fun!) and watch the rest of your army punch through to your opponent and blow them out.  Sadly, your Scorpion dies, but guess what?  Noble Quarry, because it is now a creature allows you to untap, reload, and take out opponent number 2 with exactly the same maneuver.  This cute little unicorn is a game breaker and I love it!

Common of choice:

I’m going a little out of my comfort zone again and heading into Red for my common of choice.  With Heroic being a solid mechanic and Inspired being a mechanic that in the right deck could also be very interesting, Epiphany Storm is perfectly placed to be very useful and have some surprising impact.

We learned from Theros that cheap Heroic triggers are the way to go in order to take maximum advantage of the mechanic. So, Epiphany Storm being only one red mana is efficient and triggers Heroic on a creature.  A great example is my Akroan Crusader that acts like a little mini Assemble the Legion in a aggressive W/R deck.  I don’t REALLY want to attack with my Crusader, but I do want the tokens, so this is perfect and it can then be used to help me rummage through my deck to accelerate my aggressive deck.

The other ability is finding cheap ways to trigger the Inspired mechanic on…you guessed it…Pain Seer.  In a Rakdos B/R build this is the perfect enabler on a Pain Seer to get him to tap without forcing combat.  So, you’d rummage with the Epiphany Storm (to discard a card you don’t need), and then when Pain Seer untaps draw a card and then take your draw step.  So, for little investment you’ve just dug three cards deeper in your deck and hopefully found the gas you needed to continue to beat down…or find an answer to slow down your opponent.  Either way, this card is huge boon and something anyone looking to play Red should be looking to pick up in order to trigger Heroic or Inspired abilities.

Those are my picks for top cards for each of the four slots.  You may have different picks on your own, but the bottom line is that Born of the Gods looks like it could a very interesting set with lots of neat new tricks, fun choices, and things that continue to make Magic enjoyable and fresh.


Bruce Gray
@bgray8791 on Twitter

Gerald Knight - February 5, 2014

Knight’s Booty – A Pre-Release Story


Adrenaline started pumping as I walked through the door to the shop, seeing it filled with only a few people.  The owner of the store playing a match of magic at a table close by, he greeted my friend and myself.  I remarked that there weren’t as many people as last time, to which he replied “just wait, there will be more” and with that I looked up at the Harley Quinn clock to note there was still half an hour until the Born of the Gods pre-release was to begin.  Maybe he was right, maybe the field would grow.  It was always more enjoyable with more people.

The half hour passed with introductions of my friend to the locals of the shop that had already shown up, digging through the commons boxes for a chance that I would find those Slippery Bogle’s I need for my legacy deck, and deciding which sleeves I was going to buy for the event.  It is a tradition I started a while ago and keep to this day.  New cards, new sleeves.  My friend was going to do the same thing and of all the choices that were there he wanted the yellow shields.  Leaving me with Black, White, and Purple.  Black seems so plain and I have had them before, and White is so bland, so Purple it was.  I’m not a huge fan of Purple as a colour, but maybe tonight it would help me out. (ed. note – you had the lucky 3KL Purple !!!)

The store filled up faster than I had anticipated and before I knew it we were packed and starting to roll dice for our picking order.  Two d10 were set on the main table and we all took turns rolling.  I rolled a 54, which didn’t mean much more than I would be choosing from the middle of the pack of people.  My friend however rolled 99 which meant that unless someone rolled ‘aces’ he was going to get first pick of the box of 5, then the next person down got to pick until the box was empty at which point we opened a new box and continued the process.  It was fair and made sure that people didn’t just hoard all of the colours perceived to be more powerful than the others, such as Blue which is what my friend picked when the order was sorted out.

Arbiter of the Ideal

I lucked out when my number was called and we were fresh into a new box, only blue having been called and so I went with my second choice.  White.  The pre-release creature seemed rather powerful compared to all of the others, and it had the best common removal for the format that I could see with Revoke Existence, and there were going to be a lot of enchantments running around.

The rest of the packs are given out and we are told that we can open them and start building.  Excitedly I open up my “Destined to Lead” box and pull out the Quest card and look it over.  Target my pre-release creature or return an enchantment creature from the graveyard to the battlefield, sounded like an easy enough quest.  Then I picked up my seeded pack and proceeded to tear the plastic off.  It was filled with white, and a few blue cards and a red card.  But none of that mattered as I looked to the rare.  Hero of Iroas!  I couldn’t be more excited, and a little disappointed too, but only because I already had 4 on pre-order with 3KL.  Oh well, a fifth one won’t hurt me and it is a fantastic card to have in your sealed pool right?  Not to mention there was a Ghostblade Eidolon in the pack.  I opened up the next pack and feel a bit of joy and disappointment again.  Ephara, God of the Polis.  The second worst god in my opinion.  But it was a god, so who was I to complain really.  I didn’t hurt that there was an Archetype of Courage in the pack either, which is in my opinion the best of the Archetype cycle.  The last Born of the Gods pack gave a Temple of Enlightenment and an Ephara’s Enlightenment.  I think the Gods were trying to tell me something.

Ephara, God of the Polis

I quickly set all of those cards aside and ripped through the Theros packs to find anything that could compliment what was already starting to form into a very aggressive Blue/White Heroic deck, and I couldn’t have laughed any more when I pulled a Fabled Hero.  Number 5 for my collection like the Hero of Iroas, but hell, I didn’t care at that point.  Everything was falling into place and I couldn’t have been more giddy.  I worked through my card pool and thinned it down to twenty-three playables and this is what I came up with:

1x Ephara, God of the Polis – Cast a creature spell on your turn, draw a card on theirs
1x Fabled Hero – Double Strike – Heroic +1/+1
1x Hero of Iroas – Aura’s cost 1 less, Heroic +1/+1
1x Temple of Enlightenment – Blue/White Scry land
1x Silent Sentinel – Attack and return an enchantment to the battlefield
1x Archetype of Courage – Creatures you control get First Strike, opponents don’t
1x Ephara’s Enlightenment – Creature gains flying and gets a +1/+1 counter
1x Ghostblade Eidolon – Doublestrike, Bestow
1x Phalanx Leader – Heroic +1/+1 counters on all creatures you control
1x Akroan Skyguard – Flying, Heroic +1/+1
1x Battlewise Valor – Creature gets +2/+2 until EoT, Scry 1
1x Crypsis – Creature gets Protection from Creatures until EoT, untap it
1x Ephara’s Radiance – Creature gets 1W{T}: Gain 3 life
1x Griptide – Target creature goes back ontop of it’s owners library
1x Hopeful Eidolon – Lifelink, Bestow
1x Loyal Pegasus – Flying, can’t attack or block alone
1x Mortal’s Ardor – Creature get’s +1/+1 and Lifelink until EoT
2x Nyxborn Shieldmate – Bestow
1x Observant Alseid – Vigilance, Bestow
1x Omen Speaker – Scry 2
2x Revoke Existence – Exile target Artifact or Enchantment
1x Stratus Walk – Creature gains flying, can only block flying, draw a card

Overall, I was quite happy with this Heroic deck.  It had just enough creatures, of which five could be used to trigger heroic, and I only had to splash a moderate amount of blue.  I don’t think I could have built it any better or lucked out in the pool I received.  I was happy as anything and eagerly awaited my first match.

The store hushed as names were called out.  I listen carefully and then groan slightly as I hear my name paired up with Brian.  He is one of the locals in the store and is generally a really good player.  Looks like my road to victory wasn’t going to start easy.  Oh well, that just means it will be all the sweeter.  We roll off and I keep while playing first.  I get off a quick start with a Hero of Iroas and just start pumping him with bestowed creatures.  I realized quickly how powerful the Nyxborn Eidolon was as a cheap heroic trigger, and I start beating my opponents face in.  I think it was turn five or six when I beat him.  He sides into a few cards and we start match two.  The play starts off fast out of the gate for me again and I build outwards with a Phalanx Leader, an Archetype of Courage, and an Omen speaker each with a few counters and swing in to drop him to 3 life.  Next turn was death, my death.  I got tunnel vision and didn’t realize that swinging would leave me open to lethal.  I then realized that this wasn’t going to be as easy I thought and that I had to play smarter.  Third match couldn’t have started worse for me.  Turn 3 I met up with a Nullify on my Fabled Hero.  From there it was an uphill battle, but I managed to get another pumped up Hero of Iroas and Ephara out.  This was where my opinion on Ephara turned around, as I was able to keep a steady draw of cards going and my field built up enough that the stand off we found ourselves in could quickly swing my way.  At least it was that way until a Sudden Storm tapped them down during my declare attackers step and my opponent swung with two Arbiter of the Ideal’s in back to back turns to build out and finish me off.  But I did manage to get my quest done when in the last match I got the Sentinel into play and returned a Stratus Walk to play on the Hero of Iroas.

Hero of Iroas

Not a great start to the night.  I couldn’t believe that I had let him win that second match, and my confidence was almost shattered right there.  But I vowed that I was going to go into the next matches with my wits about me and the fog of drowsiness behind me.  I grabbed a Monster Energy drink and pounded it back.  This wasn’t going to happen again.

My next opponent , Cody, created an Orzhov deck with his pool.  My first hand after he shuffled was filled with all five of the islands in my deck, and two white cards.  I wasn’t keeping this, and then went down to five when my next hand showed no land.  This wasn’t starting out too well.  My third hand wasn’t too good, as it only had one land, but it had a Pegasus and a Hero of Iroas so I kept it.  My opponent started out with a quick Gorgon’s Head to match my Pegasus.  My next turns I lucked out catching a break with drawing into mana and being able to play out my Hero of Iroas while my opponent merely played lands and passed.  I swung in for some damage over the next few turns, putting the pressure on him until his fifth turn he dropped a Sentry of the Underworld.  My Pegasus assault was stopped and I could only attack with the Hero, slowing his demise.  Next turn he equipped the Gorgon’s Head and left mana open to Regenerate him.  Thankfully I drew into a Ghostblade Eidolon and with the help of Hero of Iroas aura reducing powers manage to Bestow it on him, to swing in for what would be lethal unless he blocked with the Sentry, which of course he did and he paid the three life to regenerate it, not realizing that because of double strike the Sentry was going to die anyway.  The next turn I found a Fabled Hero and that was game as he couldn’t draw into anything to stop it.

The second game went very much like the first except I managed to not have to mulligan down to five, and only mulliganed down to six this time.  So first turn he dropped the Gorgon’s Head, I dropped my Pegasus.  He played out lands while I played a Fabled Hero and an Archetype of Courage and a Stratus Walk.  Eventually he played out the Sentry again and equipped the Gorgon’s Head to it, but it was already too late as I was able to push damage through with an Akroan Skyguard after the Sentry had been dealt with.  It was a quick victory, and made me feel more confident about the deck and my choices.

Akroan Skyguard

Cameron was my third opponent who was also sitting with a 1-1 record.  He had built a Rakdos deck and started off our match complaining about how he had been getting hosed on mana almost every match.  Apparently he would get enough mana to cast what he had in hand, except that it was always of the off colour.  Inwardly I grinned because I knew that my deck was more streamlined than his, and shouldn’t have as many problems with mana even though I’d had to aggressively mulligan in previous matches.

Reflecting back on it, I only had five cards that were off colour, and 6 sources of blue mana, not to mention that I only had three cards over four converted mana cost.  It was a really well built deck, and I just knew that I could take on his deck if he was complaining about mana issues.

The first match went similar to how I battled Cody with the Hero of Iroas coming down on turn two with the next turn being followed by a Ephara’s Radiance to swing in for three damage, keeping two mana up for when he attacked, so I could Crypsis and kill his Nyxborn Eidolon.  Then swinging back the next turn after dropping an  Observant Alseid and eating his life total away.  He missed on a critical land drop and scooped game one.  The second match saw him sitting on two mana while I dropped Fabled Hero on turn three into a Stratus Walk on turn four, and my opponent struggling to keep up.  The match finished quickly after that when he couldn’t find a way to eliminate the aerial threat and I rejoiced and breaking above the fifty percent margin with one more match to go.

Fabled Hero

Between matches myself and a few of the guys in our grouping began to figure out how things were going to play out.  See, Brian had played and lost against the currently undefeated Barry and was the only other player to have a 2-1 record, which meant that unless the computer screwed something up I was facing probably one of the best players at the shop.  And I was right.  What made this more amusing was that we had been sitting next to each other when we were opening our packs and building our decks.  He knew I had pulled the two Heros and Ephara, and I knew that he was on RUG with the 6/6 Tribute pre-release guy.  It was going to be an interesting match to say the least.

So we sat down and rolled the dice.  I lost by one  Which in that building usually is a sign of good luck as I tend to win matches when that happens.  He played out an Island and for the first time that day got to play out my Temple of Enlightenment first turn and Scry’d away a land that would have put me over the curve of four that I already had in my hand.  He played a second land and passed while I played down an Akroan Skyguard.  He dropped a third land with no play, which is where the game started looking really bleak for him because I dropped a Pegasus, and Ephara’s Radiance to start the beat down from the sky.  He played down a fourth land and dropped down a Bow of Nylea.  This could have been bad, very bad.  I swing in for what damage I could get off before dropping an Archetype of Courage as a little bit of ground insurance.  His next turn he played down another creature, but failed to leave mana open for the bow activation to take down the flyer.  Which he paid for next turn as I played a Revoke Existence and removed it as a factor and swung again.  In his last ditch effort to slow his death he played the Nessian Wilds Ravager hoping he could get a creature taken care of, because lets face it, nobody wants to stare down a 12/12 with cards like Aqueous Form in the format.  But I was holding a Griptide in hand and allowed him to have the extra six +1/+1 counters only to return it to the top of his library next turn and swing in for lethal.


This was when he remarked at just how fast the deck was, and conceded that his probably wouldn’t be able to keep up, but wanted to try anyways for obvious reason.  I mean we were playing for packs.  The way we figured it we were playing for first and second.  There was honor at stake.  Well, there wasn’t actually, but why not see if my deck had what it took to take him down, right?

So the next match gets underway he drops a Satyr Hedonist into a second land, and I drop down a second turn Hero of Iroas, which I have to say really is the best card I played all day.  His third turn saw. Third turn he played a third land and passed, where I played a Stratus Walk and an Bestowed Nyxborn Shieldmate and swung for five in the air. His fourth turn saw the Bow of Nylea come out again.  I came back and swung for another five in the air and played down more land, with Ephara coming down to the board.  This was where his hopes came alive thinking that he could have the game swing in his favour and I had to applaud him for the neat little trick, because the Bow couldn’t deal enough damage to destroy the Hero.  He attacked in with the Hedonist making it an attacking creature and triggering off the Bow, and then cast a Fall of the Hammer to have the satyr deal damage to the Hero and kill it before combat resolved.  It was a cute trick and worked to get rid of the biggest threat he had seen.  The next turn I played a Revoke Existence on the Bow to ensure it didn’t happen again and put a Fabled Hero out in place of the Hero of Iroas. The next few turns saw nothing of consequence from him until he played down an Akroan Conscriptor, which had me worried because by that time I had built up a 10/10 Lifelink Double Strike Fabled Hero.  Mind you I was at fifty life by that point, so I was comfortable.  But I didn’t like the idea of him stealing it from me and keeping himself alive.  Fortunately that didn’t last too long as I played down a Sentinel and he scooped having no way to deal with it.

Revoke Existence

I finally breathed as the match came to a close and went to report to the organizer the results of the match.  He seemed almost surprised that I managed to take Barry down in two matches, but then again so was I.  All that remained was waiting to see how we seeded in the rankings and get our prizes.  I was pretty confident that I was going to go home with a bunch of packs.  I mean I only had two losses in games and finished with an overall 7-2 record having won six straight games and I beat the only undefeated third round player.  Then the organizer came out and handed the first stack of packs to Brian.  My first opponent.  He then handed the next pile to Barry, and I got the shortest pile having come in third.  Apparently we all had the same record and it came down to percentages and Cody and Cameron didn’t help my odds any.

I was a little upset, I will admit.  But I still managed a respectable third, and have every confidence that if I had to play more rounds or was in a GP or grander event that I could have continued to stomp face.  Though there was a certain irony of this pre-release that occurred to me as I opened my prize packs.  The last pre-release I participated in, Theros, saw me lucking out and getting the colour I wanted, Black.  It saw me playing four of my six rares, and I ended up third place with first place being the only guy that beat me that night.  What are the chances?

I hope you enjoyed the story and may the gods of the mulligan ever be in your favour.

~ Gerald Knight

Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - January 27, 2014

Champion’s Deck – Azorius Control by Alexander Hayne (1st Place at...


Azorius Control
Alexander Hayne
GP Vancouver Champion

Lands (27)

Creature (1)

Other Spells (25)

Planeswalkers (7)


Local Montreal hero and perennial golden boy Alex ‘Insayne’ Hayne went on to win yet another Grand Prix tournament in what is turning into an illustrious and formidable young career. As you may have already heard that makes three such victories in the past six months. If he keeps this up there’s no telling where he and his team ManaDeprived will soar to this year. And to mention his team Alex had to battle fellow teammate and Montrealer Jon Stern, who has also been making waves on the Pro circuit, in the semifinal in a tough battle spotlighting the talent emerging from ManaDeprived and Montreal alike.

The deck he piloted is a rather straightforward U/W Control shell based around the Return to Ravnica trilogy of Sphinx’s Revelation, Supreme Verdict and Detention Sphere with full set of each of those. For his win conditions Alex chose a singleton Ætherling to go with a trio of Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. He was also able to squeeze three Mutavault in by bringing his land count up to twenty-seven to have the extra reach against other control decks. The permission package is a robust combination of a set of Dissolve and a trio of Syncopate to prevent threats from hitting the board. To keep pressure off the board there is a set of Last Breath which do well to answer a variety of threats big and small. We also have Jace, Architect of Thought with its ability to either weaken opposing armies or dig for answers which has been a key to many a blue based decks success. The final cog in the machine comes from the versatile Azorius Charm where a pair of them help to either gain some life in a pinch, bounce a pesky creature to the top of the library or most often as a means to cycle for another card which is hopefully the one you’ve been waiting for.
With the ability to answer so many questions I don’t doubt that this deck is going to show continued success going forward into Born of the Gods Standard. There are a few cards which look interesting with the most important of course being the UW scryland Temple of Enlightenment. I’m also interested to see if Ephara, God of the Polis can be work into Elspeth heavy builds to max out on draw potential. I could also see some possible sideboard options with Glimpse the Sun God, Fated Retribution or Revoke Existence. Only time will tell us what the new look of U/W Control deck is going to be.
In honor of this amazing win by Alex we are offering a 5% discount on all Standard sets this week until Friday Jan. 31st.
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - October 9, 2013
Eric Jeffrey Seltzer - October 1, 2013