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Nationals and a Brew

US Nationals was last weekend, and while I started out strong, ultimately, I was not able to defend my title. It looks I will be retiring “Forever US National Champion” in favor of, “Longest Reigning US National Champion.” For six years, I held the title; I don’t think anyone will top it. I’m okay with my new title. Speaking of National champions, congratulations to Oliver Tomajko for winning US Nationals with ub Control. The past two US Nationals have been won by ub Control, so hopefully we can keep that trend going. Today, I want to talk about Oliver’s deck choice, what I played at Nationals, and what deck I’m working on for Standard.

Going into the event, I was very confident in my deck choice. I had 5-0ed multiple Magic Online Leagues and it was testing very well in paper. On top of that, Tokens was being talked about, but it still hadn’t put up an amazing result in paper yet. So, I was hoping I would maybe catch some people off guard while they packed little to no enchantment hate. This was the final list that I settled on.

Joseph Herrera and I worked on this list up until the start of the tournament and we were confident in it. Joe’s only loss was to Abzan tokens because of Vraska, Relic Seeker. My loss was also to someone who had three Vraska, Relic Seeker main deck and the other guy had two Vraska, Relic Seekers in the Sideboard. All game losses were from her, I did not expect to run into so many people playing her. Outside of Vraska, Joe and I faired very well against everything else we played against.

I felt like I had no bad matchups, I was okay playing against anything. Anything except Vraska that is. She was such a problem, killing an enchantment and then ticking up by two loyalty the following turn and threatening to kill something else was not pretty. Tokens relies on Fumigate to clear the battlefield and then maybe have some creatures come back at end of turn with some Hidden Stockpiles. Fumigating the battlefield when your opponent has Vraska, Relic Seeker in play is a guaranteed way to just lose the game.

I really enjoyed almost everything else about the deck and would play it again tomorrow if I had a competitive tournament to play in. These are the minor changes I would make to the deck.

Most of the change is cutting The Scarab God from the main deck. I really do think he is a better mana sink in games two and three rather than Game 1. Sorcerous Spyglass lets us deal with annoying cards Game 1 like Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Whirler Virtuoso, Field of Ruin, Heart of Kiran, Vraska, Relic Seeker, and even The Scarab God. It’s just a nice catch all. You can replace it with Cast Out but I just want to be able to stop all copies of the card I name with Sorcerous Spyglass. The other addition main deck is the Treasure Maps. This deck is extremely mana hungry and doesn’t want to be casting four or 5 mana spells unless they are ending the game. Treasure Map gives card selection with Scry for minimal upfront cost and then when it flips it gives us mana and card advantage, it also works favorably with Anointed Procession.

Outside of that, the deck hasn’t changed much. It doesn’t need to, it’s a very powerful deck and it will be a contender when people sleep on enchantment hate, even with enchantment hate, if your opponent isn’t killing multiple enchantments it won’t be enough.

The next list I want to talk briefly about is Oliver Tomajko’s.

Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
Honestly, there’s nothing we haven’t really seen already in the main deck. The biggest thing is playing the third Vraska's Contempt over the first Glimmer of Genius. While not trivial, it’s not a game changer. The biggest thing here is the Sideboard. It’s all about the Sideboard. Morphing from a ub Control deck into a low to the ground aggro deck with removal and countermagic is a huge game changer. It’s even a bigger one since your opponent has cut their removal. All the sudden, you have Glint-Sleeve Siphoners that are drawing you a ton of cards and you still have countermagic to protect them in case they leave a few removal spells in. You also have ways to clear the path with your removal if menace isn’t enough.

This is very reminiscent of when I won Nationals with ub Control and made the deck a thing. Then Shaheen Soorani started playing Bloodghast as the mirror breaker. Shaheen is one of the best control mages there is; and, if he even gains a slight edge in the mirror, he’s not going to lose. ub Control was already a thing in Standard and Oliver jumped on the transformational Sideboard plan right away. It payed off heavily by giving him a trophy, $5000, and a spot on the US National team for the World Magic Cup. Congratulations are in order and good luck to Reid Duke, Gerry Thompson, and Oliver Tomajko at the World Cup!

Now, before I head out, I want to talk about one more deck that I’ve been working on with Darryl Donaldson. This weekend was the first time Darryl played it in a side event. He ended up walking away with an armful of packs and a huge grin. This is the list he played.

Conqueror's Foothold
I had given Darryl a skeleton of the deck I was messing with and he went with this. The deck is a little all over the place right now but there is something here. I saw him take over a game with Conqueror's Foothold that was crewed by zombies. I then saw him dismantle a ub Control player by resolving a Metallurgic Summonings, by baiting the opponent with a Pull from Tomorrow and then casting Metallurgic Summonings with Negate back up. He won another game against the ub Control player by just milling him out with Ipnu Rivulet.

The deck has a lot of sweet little interactions. One that I really liked was River's Rebuke followed by Memory. This essentially would take all non-permanents the opponent controls and send them all back into the opponent’s deck along with whatever else they had in their hands. Commit // Memory is powerful here because, by the time you Aftermath Memory, you’ll have most if not all your lands in play thanks to Spring // Mind and Hour of Promise. This means you’ll draw a lot less lands and have mana to cast some of them while your opponent is statistically more likely to have land in their opening hand thanks to Memory.

This is the deck I will be working on and I’m excited to see what powerful and fun cards I can jam here. Maybe some Bounty of the Luxa? Conqueror's Foothold and Haze of Pollen? TURBOFOG?!?! Maybe even jam some Primal Amulets. Only time will tell!

We’ve sadly come to the end. I hope you continue to read my articles even though I’m no longer the Forever US National Champion. Please love me for me! Ha ha

As always, thank you so much for being and reading my articles.

Until next time,

Ali Aintrazi


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