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Team Event SCG Atlanta


This past weekend was SCG Open Atlanta and it was a team event. I ended up teaming with my best friend Justin Parnell and good friend Joseph Herrera. I battled in Standard where I played Sultai Delirium in Standard, Justin Parnell played Sultai Death's Shadow in Legacy, and Joe played Jund in Modern. We had a blast but didn’t finish as high as we had hoped. This was mostly due to Justin and I playing new decks without any games under our belt. In fact, Justin ended up playing the same deck the next day in the Legacy Classic and finished in second place after getting all the practice games he needed from the Team Event. Justin used the team for practice!

Shame, shame, shame! Seriously though, I’m happy he had such a high finish in the event, just wish he had taken the whole thing down. So, today I’m going to be talking about the new decks that Justin and I played.

First up, let’s go over the deck I sleeved up for the team event.

Originally, I was going to play ur Control splashing Black for Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh. Then I started tinkering with decklists that played Champion of Wits. I believed Champion of Wits to be a good card that was underplayed and was I trying to find a delightful home for it. The shell that I gravitated to was Sultai Delirium. I had played the archetype before when Emrakul, the Promised End was legal, and Sultai Delirium was a deck that could really benefit from everything Champion of Wits was doing. Filling the graveyard with cards that turn on Delirium was great, along with being able to Eternalize the Champion in the late game. Milling it over with Liliana, the Last Hope or Grim Flayer was strong. So, after I figured out where I wanted to play Champion of Wits, I then began to sculpt the deck. I needed to build it with the metagame in mind. This was by brewing process.

The best decks in my mind were wu Monument, Mardu, ur Control, and Mono-Red Aggro. Mono-Red Aggro had made some splashes at the last Open with Eldrazi but I knew the deck was going to lower its curve from Eldrazi. Stopping the curve at Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Hazoret the Fervent was enough. You didn’t need Reality Smasher or Thought-Knot Seer.

Fatal Push
Liliana, the Last Hope
Grasp of Darkness
Dead Weight

For the aggressive decks, I wanted early removal along with constant removal. Liliana, the Last Hope hasn’t seen play for a while but she’s in a good spot right now. Picking things off, from Bomat Courier, Earthshaker Khenra, Falkenrath Gorger, Village Messenger, Veteran Motorist, Toolcraft Exemplar, Selfless Spirit, Oketra's Monument tokens, and more, was very solid. I wanted more Fatal Push over Grasp of Darkness so I could have an easier time interacting early and slow down the aggressive decks.

Mindwrack Demon
Never // Return
Grim Flayer

After that, I knew I needed some way to deal with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Gideon is traditionally amazing against Delirium decks and I didn’t want to be cold to it. Grim Flayer either gets countered by Gideon or puts pressure on Gideon if you have Delirium. I wanted the full playset because not only was Grim Flayer good against Gideon, but it was also just great for the deck. Mindwrack Demon was the best answer I could find. It was a creature, so I could get it with Traverse the Ulvenwald and it had flying and trample. Mindwrack Demon fights well against other things besides Gideon, most notably Glorybringer and Archangel Avacyn. Finally, I just added Never // Return over To the Slaughter in case I milled it.

Rogue Refiner
The Scarab God
Glimmer of Genius
Champion of Wits

Lastly, I needed a way to out grind midrange and control decks. This was where Champion of Wits would shine. Rogue Refiner was another welcome addition, a creature that replaced itself and assured I could continue using my Aether Hubs as well as having a solid body. The Scarab God was the ultimate grind card. Buying back creatures while draining your opponent and scrying was slow but extremely powerful and would end the game in just one or two activations.

After I picked my cards for the metagame, I then began to build my deck. The thought of Distended Mindbender came to me but I didn’t like the card and figured if I played it, it would’ve been better in the sideboard. I was right about that choice in the long run. I was happy with my seventy-five and was ready for the tournament to start. After playing some matches, I noticed some mistakes in my deck-building that I would’ve quickly picked up if I had just played with it prior to the tournament.

  • I had too much card advantage, if I lost a match I would usually lose it with a bunch of cards in my hand.
  • The deck was extremely mana hungry which meant I couldn’t fully abuse Traverse the Ulvenwald because I tended to just grab more and more lands with it.
  • I needed a little more interaction early. Either more cheap creatures or more cheap removal. I thought I wouldn’t need enchantment removal but I wished I had access to some the entire day.

While I noticed what wasn’t working, I also noticed what was. Champion of Wits was amazing and so was Liliana, the Last Hope. The Scarab God overperformed every time I got to play him. Ishkanah was still as great as ever.

So, from here I know I need to go one of two ways. On one hand, I can lower the curve a bit and play more removal alongside a couple of cheap creatures like Sylvan Advocates. On the other hand, I can turn the deck into a big mana deck. Having more ramp/mana would allow the deck to abuse The Scarab God more along with Champion of Wits. The big mana approach is what I intend to test next. This is where I would be starting.

The deck has a good amount of early interaction that should keep the battlefield clear so you can cycle Shefet Monitor on turn four or cast Hour of Promise on turn five. This will allow you to accelerate your mana so that you can eternalize Champion of Wits more quickly, have more fuel for The Scarab God, activate your Ishkanah / creature lands, and then, in the late game, cast Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. The deck has a lot of deserts but it can cycle the extras or use them to fuel Ifnir Deadlands. I wanted a “fifth” Grim Flayer so opted for a singleton Sylvan Advocate. The Advocate is fine early while being a real threat late, especially with creature lands. Ulamog may seem a bit ambitious but you can discard it early with Champion of Wits and bring it back later with either Liliana or The Scarab God. The Scarab God can eternalize Ulamog at instant speed making him a 4/4 indestructible creature that exiles twenty cards when it attacks. This will end the game just as quickly as a 10/10 Ulamog. The only thing that the deck is missing is a mass removal spell. Yaheeni's Expertise isn’t good enough to be in the main deck now and Bontu's Last Reckoning has such a huge drawback. I feel like we have enough early removal and creatures that we don’t necessarily need a board wipe, so that’s a plus. If you like Sultai, Delirium, Ulamog, or The Scarab God, I’d recommend that you give this deck a go.

The last thing I want to quickly talk about is Justin Parnell’s Legacy deck.

I’m not a Legacy aficionado by any means but I trust Justin when he says a deck is good. He even has the results to prove it. Continuously I saw people think Justin was playing a budget deck when he cracked a fetch only to shock himself with Watery Grave. Then they finally see the light darkness after he plays a huge Death's Shadow. The deck is very powerful allowing you to play free spells such as Gitaxian Probe, Dismember, and Snuff Out. Spells that cost life tend to be a liability but not so much here because of Death's Shadow. The deck is extremely powerful and very good if White decks aren’t a huge part of the metagame. The reason being Swords to Plowshares kills all your Death's Shadows. Justin was prepared for this. Seeing that Death and Taxes is the most played White deck with Swords to Plowshares, he packed two Dread of Night to kill their creatures right back. This deck is great because it isn’t all in on Death's Shadow. You don’t need it to win, it just makes things easier. It still has Gurmag Angler, Delver of Secrets, and Deathrite Shaman which are all tier one threats in Legacy.

I would highly recommend giving this deck a try if you enjoy playing Delver decks. It’s also cheaper than other Delver decks since it plays some shocklands instead of just dual lands.

If you want to know more about Justin’s deck, then I highly recommend listening to Think Twice. This is a new Podcast where Justin Parnell and I talk about Magic, our adventures, and other exciting nerdy things. I’m sure he’ll be going in depth about his deck on the third episode. You can find the link to the podcast at the bottom.

Well ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we’ve come to an end. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and these decks. I’ll catch you all next week!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ali Aintrazi

@AliEldrazi on Twitter

Think Twice Podcast

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