I wanted to write about a successful SCG Tour stop in Indianapolis and I'm delighted to be bringing you that report today. I've been writing about Azorius Stoneblade in various incarnations over the last few weeks; I stuck to my guns and piloted it to a 12th place finish.
Here's the list I played:
Azorius Stoneblade | Modern | Kyle Boggemes
- Lands (24)
- 1 Plains
- 3 Island
- 1 Snow-Covered Plains
- 3 Snow-Covered Island
- 1 Glacial Fortress
- 1 Mystic Sanctuary
- 2 Celestial Colonnade
- 2 Hallowed Fountain
- 2 Scalding Tarn
- 4 Field of Ruin
- 4 Flooded Strand
I posted a very similar version of the deck at the end of my last article. The Spell Queller sub-theme got second place in a Magic Online Modern Challenge by JensLund a couple weeks ago. I talked with Jens a little bit about what performed well for him and arrived at the following list.
I played a mix of regular and snow-covered basics because it's not a popular choice. It won't matter in most games, but it could signal Field of the Dead or Gifts Ungiven. Any unconventional distraction to get an edge helps. The all snow-land bluff is so last year.
There were just under 600 players in the main event which made for a relatively small Modern Open. The prior weekend featured UrzaDox and Amulet Titan dominating, but the variety of decks played by top players narrows in Team Constructed events. I expected a diverse metagame and that's exactly what I got.
Many of the SCG Tour grinders got scared off of UrzaDox in Indianapolis because of various hate cards and an increase in fast combo decks. UrzaDox is resilient, but lacks speed. To increase the speed you need to sacrifice consistency with Jeskai Ascendancy.
Here's my round summary:
Round 1: TitanShift WIN
The tournament started out with a bang. The proactive nature of Stoneforge Mystic allowed me to race a Carnage Tyrant on turn six followed by searching for Vexing Shusher to make Scapeshift with seven lands uncounterable in the second game. Don't mess with a Celestial Colonnade equipped with Sword of Feast and Famine alongside a Batterskull.
Round 2: Burn WIN
Round 3: Burn WIN
This matchup continues to feel very good. I was happy to not have a second Batterskull in my sideboard. The single equipment in my deck was powerful enough to win even though I failed to find with Stoneforge often.
Round 4: Robert Graves with Devoted Devastation WIN
Round 5: Dominic Harvey with Tron LOSS
This was an on-camera feature match. I got thoroughly ranched. I went for a Field of Ruin to kill a Tron piece found by a spell only for it to be immediately replaced. Later on I let a land-searching effect resolve in favor of countering the haymaker since the game was going to drag on. This bit me as his payoff was Emrakul, the Promised End.
I rewatched the video and didn't Mana Leak the Emrakul even though I remember staring at my hand for a long time looking for a creature counter. Big tournaments are draining and this was an error that prevented me from forcing a Game 3. It was frustrating to watch, but mistakes happen.
Round 6: Azorius Spirits WIN
Round 7: Paul Muller with UrzaDox LOSS
My first time up against the boogeyman. The deck is very good at playing a fair game when I disrupt the combo. Stony Silence didn't do much in the post-board game; I knew that was a risk coming into the event, but still shuts off Emry from recurring Mishra's Bauble.
Oko got through my countermagic and single handedly won the game. If you're looking for a hate card against Stoneblade it's certainly Oko. I'm going to cut Stony Silence from my sideboard because Mystical Dispute is the best card against UrzaDox and I want another copy to counter Oko and Teferi.
Round 8: Vannifar Pod WIN
Round 9: Jund WIN
I closed out the day with an insane game where I grinded through a Wrenn and Six emblem for about eight turns. The only spells in the graveyard were Thoughtseize and Lightning Bolt. The equipment were very handy in this situation.
I ended day 1 at 7-2. Since the Top 64 featured at least one person with a 6-3 record they all made day two. This meant day two was rather large with 131 players making the cut. I need to go 5-1 on day two to make the top eight.
Round 10: Esper Stoneblade UNINTENTIONAL DRAW
My opponent played well by not being the first to cast many spells and played draw-go. I felt disadvantaged as Fatal Push is a superior answer to Stoneforge Mystic compared to Path to Exile. Drown in the Loch is also a versatile answer I'm jealous I couldn't play.
I made an error to lose Game 1 where I went all-in on attacking with Celestial Colonnade instead of taking time off to cast a Teferi, Time Raveler so the land wouldn't die to removal. I was punished for my impatience and the Colonnade got hit with Drown in the Loch.
While this deck looks very sweet I'm skeptical of playing a control deck without the full amount Field of Ruin. There's also some tension between Thought Scour to turn on Drown in the Loch and Stoneforge Mystic. If your opponent wants a stocked graveyard I don't want to target myself either because it could mill my equipment.
Round 11: Delver WIN
Round 12: Aaron Barich with Naya Burn WIN
I've played against Aaron in a few events and we only get paired when I have an anti-aggro deck. The Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull managed to hold off many Wild Nacatls and Monastery Swiftspears. I did like adding back Wild Nacatl and Atarka's Command back to increase the power level of the deck.
Round 13:Tron WIN
Round 14 Zach Allen with Amulet Titan LOSS
This was another on-camera feature match where I got stomped. I won the first game as Zach flooded out hard. The second game was interesting; it was another case of the equipment grinding harder than expected. There's likely a line I could have taken to win, but the tournament had already began to take its toll. I also failed to realize I even had a chance to win toward the end so I sped up to get more time for Game 3.
I mulliganed to five in the third game. It was another loss that came at the hands of Oko. I was already down too many resources to win the game, but Oko shut me out faster than Primeval Titan. It's the most efficient alternate win condition in combo and control decks I have ever seen. Legion Warboss has nothing on Oko. Seriously that card is deranged.
It was a bummer as losing that match eliminated me from Top 8 contention. On the other hand, Zach is also a member of Team RIW and the win put him into the Top 8. Another member of Team RIW, Bryan Carey, also made it into the elimination rounds. A great showing this weekend.
Round 15: Urza Ascendancy WIN
The Jeskai Ascendancy version of Paradoxical Outcome decks are faster, but less consistent. Game 1 featured Jeskai Ascendancy pumping three tokens from Sai, Master Thopterist to race. I barely held on by chaining Cryptic Commands with Snapcaster Mage and Stoneforge Mystic closed the door.
Stony Silence won the second game by itself. A turn two Emry was threatening to get out of hand with Mishra's Bauble, but he couldn't find the lands to cast the heavy-hitters. Meanwhile I was also land-screwed, but Stoneforge Mystic for Batterskull provided a good clock.
I ended the event with an 11-3-1 record good for $325. I'm happy with the result, but having the Top 8 in your grasp always leaves a sour taste.
I wouldn't change the maindeck, but here's my new sideboard:
- 2 Supreme Verdict
- 1 Dismember
- 2 Disdainful Stroke
- 2 Mystical Dispute
- 2 Timely Reinforcements
- 2 Rest in Peace
- 2 Celestial Purge
- 1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
- 1 Ashiok, Dream Render
The deck felt very good and I would continue to recommend Azorius Stoneblade in the future. Spell Queller has an interesting feature in that it absolutely crushes opponents that walk into your traps. I'm not surprised my three losses were to great players. Queller's matchup profile is less about the deck and more about your opponent's ability to navigate tricky Blue cards.
I'll also say that I felt I played this tournament very badly. There were many mistakes made which is a testament to the power of the deck.
The Mystic Sanctuary was decent in some spots, but this isn't the deck for it to truly shine. If I put Cryptic Command, Timely Reinforcements, or Supreme Verdict on top I'm having a lot of fun. Two Cryptic Commands means I can bounce the sanctuary and tap the opposing creatures each turn; this creates an infinite Fog that some decks cannot beat.
If you keep up to date with Magic literature you will hear many players talking about Mystic Sanctuary being broken. The next deck I want to explore takes advantage of Mystic Sanctuary: Miracles. If it's broken, this is a good deck to play.
Ivan Espinosa took down the Modern Classic in Indianapolis with a good-looking list.
Blue/White Miracles | Modern | Ivan Espinosa, SCG Modern Classic Indianapolis
- Creatures (3)
- 3 Snapcaster Mage
- Instants (20)
- 1 Logic Knot
- 1 Mana Leak
- 2 Hieroglyphic Illumination
- 2 Spell Snare
- 3 Cryptic Command
- 3 Force of Negation
- 4 Opt
- 4 Path to Exile
- Lands (25)
- 2 Plains
- 5 Island
- 2 Celestial Colonnade
- 2 Hallowed Fountain
- 2 Scalding Tarn
- 4 Field of Ruin
- 4 Flooded Strand
- 4 Mystic Sanctuary
At this point I think it's correct to play four Opts in a majority of the Control decks. Since the miracles encourage instant-speed draw spells the secondary draw spell is Hieroglyphic Illumination. I like this spell because it's a great card advantage engine with Mystic Sanctuary. The other option is Serum Visions which also helps set up miracles, but a weaker option to put on top of your deck.
I favor playing two Mana Leak in Stoneblade because games go quickly, but the single Logic Knot makes a lot of sense in a slower build. Spell Snare is still a great counter; UrzaDox is a strong deck, but the majority of decks still play 2-drops.
I would consider cutting the second Teferi, Hero of Dominaria because Entreat the Angels is already a way to go over the top. This would keep the curve relatively constant while adding a fourth Cryptic Command to further push the power of Mystic Sanctuary.
Terminus is a big reason I like Miracles. A downside of traditional Azorius decks is the non-Path removal spells drop off in quality. Terminus provides an extra set of removal spells without adding a third color; this enables the deck to keep four Field of Ruin.
Three Snapcaster Mage in this deck makes a lot of sense as I care less about playing the tempo game. I would rather not exile as many good spells from my graveyard to support the four Mystic Sanctuary.
Monastery Mentor in the sideboard allows you to quickly pivot from a sweeper deck to a fish strategy against combo. The additional Force of Negation makes tapping out against dangerous combo decks more reasonable. A clean swap. I wish it could be Oko, but it's not worth the splash.
The most important part of the sideboard is that most of the cards can be swapped for Terminus and Path to Exile against decks that don't play creatures. I need a clean eight to board in against a variety of decks.
Ivan chose to not play artifact hate; I can respect that. The UrzaDox sideboard hate actually comes in the form of Narset to prevent Astrolabe and Paradoxical Outcome from drawing extra cards.
That's all I have for this week. It feels good to post a solid result with Stoneblade, but Modern has so many more sweet decks to play.
Thanks for reading.