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Choices for the $50,000 Tournament

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This weekend is the SCG Invitational. Players that have qualified for the tournament will gather and battle it out over the course of three days for their share of the $50,000 prize pool. My qualification for this tournament was solidified when my team Top 4ed the Baltimore event. The SCG Invitational is two formats. One will be Modern and the other, Standard. While I know what I will be playing in Modern, I have no idea on what I should be playing in Standard. Doing well in Baltimore with my Modern deck makes my deck choice easy for Modern, however, I haven’t been playing much of Standard. Energy mirrors, while interactive, just aren’t appealing to me. I really want to play an Hour of Promise deck, but time is slipping away. I don’t quite have the time to tune an Hour of Promise deck to my liking. So today we are going to go over my deck choices for the SCG Invitational. I’ll post my Modern deck and then I’m on the fence between two Standard decks. I’ll go over those two deck choices and maybe you guys and gals can give me some insight on what I should play in the comments. Sound fair?

First things first, my Modern deck.


Serum Visions
I’ve talked about this deck a lot so I won’t go into too much detail today on it. The main difference between this deck and the one I Top 4ed with is just the inclusion of some Serum Visions in the main deck. This is to just smooth out the deck and allow you to get to the mid-late game without missing land drops. Late game, it’s not an exciting card to draw but it does its job.

The Sideboard is where the deck is always changing. It’s more important than your main deck configuration. Having the right cards for certain matchups is crucial. You must walk that fine balance of having a satisfactory answer for a certain deck but not a narrow card. For example, against Geist of Saint Traft decks I really want the fourth Supreme Verdict in the Sideboard but it would only be very good in that matchup. However, something like Anger of the Gods is still good against Geist Tempo decks but Anger is also good against Dredge, Elves, and Collected Company decks. Having a card that is a bigger catch all than a narrow card can be very important.

On the other hand, sometimes you need that narrow card against some decks. Like Rule of Law, it’s only good against storm and similar decks like Ad Nauseam. Against those matchups however, they can’t win at all without removing the enchantment. I feel like storm is a bad matchup overall, so I really want a card that shuts them down, therefore I picked Rule of Law.

Sideboards are the most important thing in Magic. They are also the hardest things to grasp and understand. You play more games of Magic with your sideboard than without it. I’ve been playing Magic for years and I still get sideboarding wrong. Honestly, if you want to improve your Magic game quickly, learn and master sideboarding. Know what cards you’re taking out and what you’re bringing in for your matchups. Don’t just wing it at the event, that’s a surefire way to sideboard incorrectly and not improve your game. How awful is it when you discover that you can’t bring in four cards against a certain matchup because you can’t cut enough cards? So, you only bring in three cards. You’ve essentiality wasted a sideboard slot and that will cost you the longer the event goes, especially in a control deck.

Okay, that’s my small aside on sideboarding. While I’m not 100% locked in on all the cards, I am locked in on the archetype. So now off to Standard land, where energy grows on trees and is abundant everywhere.

I want all the edge I can get in the energy mirror. So Temur Black is what I would play If I play energy. This is my list.


Vraska, Relic Seeker
We’ve seen plenty of energy decks, I’m sure this one is a variation of somebody’s. I just built this one to have as much of an edge in the “mirror” as I can without giving a ton of percentage points up against other decks. I want the “oops, I guess I win” button with The Scarab God. Sometimes casting that guy on turn five and then untapping with it is just game over. Vraska, Relic Seeker is just a great catch all. It’s fine in the mirror match, it can set an Approach opponent to one life, and against tokens it will take over the game very quickly. It also does an okay job against God-Pharaoh's Gift. Then of course we gotta play the miser’s Essence Scatter for opposing Scarab Gods! An all seriousness, Essence Scattering a Rogue Refiner or Whirler Virtuoso in the mirror is very solid as well.

As far as the Sideboard is concerned, I want big hitters here. I want cards that can change the outcome of a game by themselves or at the very least, swing games in my favor. I’d rather not have something like Magma Spray or even Appetite for the Unnatural. I’d rather be proactive when it’s possible. The exception to this is Negate and Chandra's Defeat. Negate is just a most against Approach decks, you can’t have anything better against them. Chandra's Defeat is important because against the mirror match, if a Chandra, Torch of Defiance sticks, it’s going to be very hard to remove via damage since the battlefield tends to get cluttered quickly. Defeat also works against Ramunap Red essentially being a 1-mana Vindicate.

So, this is the Energy I’m debating on it. It’s Temur Black or an Approach of the Second Sun deck. Approach of the Second Sun is more my style but I’m afraid of the Ramunap Red matchup. This is my Approach list.


Approach of the Second Sun
Again, straightforward for the most part. The reason I want to play Esper over straight wu is because I value the power of The Scarab God. Game 1 you can win easily against midrange decks with Approach of the Second Sun. Games two and three are a different story. They gain access to Negates and some decks get Duress. Having an alternate win condition that avoids Negate and Duress is an excellent place to be. It avoids the sideboard cards and it also happens to be insane against Temur, especially alongside Fumigate and Fatal Push.

The only problem with Approach decks is how bad they are against Ramunap Red decks. They were bad against Ramunap Red before they started playing Rampaging Ferocidon. Some are even playing Rampaging Ferocidon main deck. With Ferocidon it’s even harder to win. Esper Approach must counter the dinosaur on the way down. It’s that or wait until they can Fumigate or Vraska's Contempt it. Fatal Push won’t hit it since the deck has no authentic way of triggering Revolt. Regal Caracal is good, but again, you got to get past the little Red dinosaur that could.

I feel like Energy is the more powerful deck but Approach is more my playstyle. I also haven’t played energy once during its legality in Standard. I played other decks or just other formats. So, I won’t be as good in the mirror match as other players. I won’t know what I should be prioritizing first and what I should not worry too much about. It’s also harder to sideboard with a Midrange deck than a Control deck, at least for me anyway. The lines are a lot clearer for control decks. On top of all that, I’m not the best at combat. I’d rather avoid it until I’m attacking with an Ulamog, Dragonlord Atarka, or Torrential Gearhulk. What do you my readers think? What would you play?

All right, I got to do well this tournament. Hopefully I’ll see you next week with a winning tournament report. If not, I’ll settle for top eight too.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

As always, thanks for reading!

Ali Aintrazi

@AliEldrazi


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