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Grand Prix New York Report: B/G Husk

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Continuing my quest for gold in Grand Prix New York, I decided to update the deck I had played last week in Grand Prix Toronto: B/G Husk.

Over the past week, I had long productive discussions about fixing the sideboard of B/G Husk including with Josh Jones (JitteCantSaveUAwful), David Barlow (ninth at Grand Prix Toronto with Husk), and Matthew Lackey. Many pieces of technology were discovered (including the Reality Smashers I mentioned last week) for us to end up on the following deck (plus or minus two to three cards):

We adopted Languish for two primary reasons:

Languish

  1. The matchup against East West Rites (a.k.a. four-color Rites) was quite poor. You’d find yourself in a board stall, and then Eldrazi Displacer in conjunction with Reflector Mage would result with your entire board in your hand, staring at you uselessly and uncastable. Languish solved this problem perfectly—you’d end up with your entire board in your hand, and you’d then cast Languish and gain an overwhelming amount of card advantage, usually leaving the opponent close to nothing.
  2. The matchup against White Weenie was still close, but I regarded it as slightly unfavorable. Having a card like Languish made the matchup a lot easier.

Similarly, Ob Nixilis Reignited came about as the third answer to Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet (but wasn’t dead if the opponent didn’t have Kalitas in play), but it also often came in when you were sideboarding into a slower, more controlling deck.

Reality Smasher still over performed against control decks, and I’d even consider adding a fourth going forward.

Quick Round by Round

Cryptolith Rite
Day 1:

  • Two byes
  • Round 3 vs. Sultai (Ben Rubin–designed), Win
  • Round 4 vs. G/W Tokens, Win
  • Round 5 vs. Ben Friedman playing East-West Rites, Win
  • Round 6 vs. G/W Tokens, Win
  • Round 7 vs. Bant, Win
  • Round 8 vs. Bant, Win
  • Round 9 vs. Seth Manfield playing W/B, Loss

Day 2:

  • Round 10 vs. G/W Tokens, Win
  • Round 11 vs. Naya Planeswalkers, Win
  • Round 12 vs. Grixis Control, Win
  • Round 13 vs. Matt Costa playing East-West Rites, Win
  • Round 14 vs. Grixis Control, Loss
  • Round 15 vs. Michael Majors playing G/W Tokens, Loss

I don’t remember any particularly interesting situations that came up in this tournament. Most of my games were fairly academic, and they played out the way I envisioned doing so.

Here are my overall records versus the archetypes from between the two tournaments:

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

  • G/W Tokens: 6–2
  • Bant Company: 3–0
  • W/B variants: 1–1
  • East-West Rites: 2–0
  • Grixis Control: 1–2
  • Ben Rubin Sultai: 1–0
  • Naya Planeswalkers: 1–0
  • Goggles Ramp: 3–0
  • White Weenie: 0–2
  • One unknown matchup

Going forward, I can’t honestly recommend this deck unless you expect the field to be all G/W Tokens and midrange decks. The matchup against Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet– and Languish-based control decks is not very good.

Losing both of my win-and-ins was a bitter pill to swallow, as winning either of those matches would have locked me for Top 8 and for gold-level status. After re-watching the against versus Michael Majors, I don’t believe there is anything I could have done differently in the third game. I often find it’s helpful to take a step back for a day but then reassess if there was anything you could have done differently. I was very disappointed to have missed gold at this Grand Prix, but I know it takes a lot of hard work and repeated good decision making to do well.

If you decide you wanted to play B/G Husk (in upcoming Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers or Grand Prix), I do have a bunch of suggestions and advice:

I would change the list to have a Swamp in the sideboard, alongside a fourth Reality Smasher and cut the Clip Wings and fourth Transgress the Mind. So it ends up looking like this:

Swamp
Sideboard:

Given that, here’s some advice on how I would sideboard and play against various opponents (assuming they’re playing stock lists):

Bant Company

Nothing. You’re really favored, and unless the opponent has a very unusual sideboard plan (like a lot of Tragic Arrogances), I would rather just run the streamlined main deck and try to play the game of accumulating as many Zulaport Cutthroats on a board stall. Transforming Westvale Abbey into Ormendahl, Profane Prince is generally not a good idea against these opponents since they have access to four Reflector Mage and four Bounding Krasis.

G/W Tokens

Out: 2 Liliana, Heretical Healer

In: 2 Ultimate Price

Again, this matchup is pretty favorable. I just want clean answers to Archangel Avacyn in case the opponent tries to run the classic turn-five Archangel Avacyn into Hangarback Walker for 0 to try to sweep your board. You can Ultimate Price Avacyn with its trigger on the stack during your upkeep to punish that play. Similar to the Bant matchup, you want to accumulate Zulaport Cutthroats on a board stall. Going all in on Ormendahl against these opponents is a lot less dangerous, however.

Bounding Krasis
Ormendahl, Profane Prince
Gryff's Boon

White Weenie

Out: 1 Liliana, Heretical Healer, 3 Cryptolith Rite

In: 2 Ultimate Price, 2 Languish

I consider this matchup to be slightly unfavorable. Gryff's Boon is the most likely way you lose this matchup—or else the opponent having access to two Glorious Anthem effects (Thalia's Lieutenant and Always Watching). Languish kills basically every creature in the deck unless the opponent has drawn a lot of Anthem effects. Ultimate Price lets you deal with Gryff's Boon at instant speed. Against these opponents, as long as you’re surviving or dragging the game out, you’re very likely to win.

East West Rites

Out: 2 Liliana, Heretical Healer, 4 Blisterpod

In: 2 Languish, 1 Ob Nixilis Reignited, 3 Transgress the Mind

This is a very odd matchup, but it is quite unfavorable in Game 1. As I said before, it tends to degenerate into a board stall in Game 1, and Eldrazi Displacer alongside Reflector Mage will result in you having all of your creatures be uncastable and in your hand. Post-’board, the matchup improves a lot given that you turn into a midrange, Rock-style deck, and the opponent will try to lock you out with Reflector Mage plus Eldrazi Displacer, which plays perfectly into your Languish plan.

Grixis Control

Out: 3 Loam Dryad, 4 Cryptolith Rite

In: 4 Reality Smasher, 3 Transgress the Mind, 1 Ob Nixilis Reignited

This matchup seems very unfavorable. The combination of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet plus sweepers and spot removal is a nightmare. Post-’board, we discovered that this deck doesn’t really have a good way to kill Reality Smasher, and Ob Nixilis Reignited is potent against these opponents as both a Kalitas answer and a Phyrexian Arena lookalike.

Reflector Mage
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Transgress the Mind

W/B Midrange

There’s a lot of flavors of this deck, but against the Manfield list from Grand Prix New York, I would sideboard in the following way:

Out: 3 Loam Dryad, 4 Cryptolith Rite

In: 4 Reality Smasher, 3 Transgress the Mind, 1 Ob Nixilis Reignited

You should note that this is exactly the same way I would sideboard against Grixis Control—I believe the Manfield W/B matchup and the Grixis Control matchup play out exactly the same. Sweepers and Kalitas are extremely annoying to play around.

Other Notes

With Catacomb Sifter and Eldrazi Scion tokens, it is often correct to leave the scry trigger on the stack and respond to it with a Duskwatch Recruiter activation or a Collected Company cast.

Zulaport Cutthroat
Be very careful about announcing all of your scry and drain triggers (from Catacomb Sifter and Zulaport Cutthroat). Catacomb Sifter triggers on other creatures, while Zulaport Cutthroat triggers on basically any creature dying. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet only prevents nontoken creatures from dying, so you can drain and scry by sacrificing tokens through Kalitas.

Occasionally, Westvale Abbey lets you have more drain triggers than Nantuko Husk because of the following scenario:

You have two Zulaport Cutthroats, Nantuko Husk, and two other creatures, and the opponent is at 10 (but has flying blockers and opposing Scion tokens to block with). If you have access to Westvale Abbey and 5 other mana, you can sacrifice all five of your creatures to Abbey to put ten drain triggers on the stack. Without Westvale Abbey, you’d end up gaining 2 + 2 + 2 + 1 (first, sac your first two other creatures, then a Cutthroat, and then Nantuko Husk).

However, if the opponent didn’t have opposing Eldrazi Scions to block with here, you could sacrifice your two other creatures first, then Nantuko Husk, and then attack for the win assuming the opponent didn’t have blocks that forced the player to kill the Cutthroats.


I’m in the current #firstworldproblem status of needing a 13–2 (in a Grand Prix), three 12–3s (in three separate Grand Prix), or a Regional Pro Tour Qualifier win to achieve gold (since I am currently at 30 out of the necessary 33 points, but my Grand Prix point slots are relatively full).

I look forward to trying a bunch of different decks in Modern this week and the week after in preparation for Grand Prix Charlotte, up to and including:

Other reasonable choices I’m not interested in are: R/G Tron, Infect, Burn, Affinity, Jund/Abzan/B/G Midrange, and Bogles (Cedric Phillips managed to spike a Magic Online PTQ with it last weekend).

I wish the best of luck to everyone playing in a tournament soon, and there’s a lot of room to improve and practice still.

Thanks for reading, and I appreciate any comments here or on Twitter.

Jarvis


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