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Pro Tour Theros – 38th, Part 1

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Hey there! I was going to write an article on Theros Limited last week, but the preparation for the Pro Tour was taking so much of my time that I was not able to finish the article. This week, I will be talking about Pro Tour Theros, where I finished thirty-eighth. The first part of this tournament report covers our preparation for the Pro Tour, and the next part, which is due next week, will cover the actual rounds along with some general thoughts about the format going forward.

The Preparation

Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
I have been testing together with the other Finnish players and the Swedes since Pro Tour Gatecrash in Montreal. For the previous two Pro Tours, we mainly communicated with each other through a Facebook group before the event and then tested a bit separately while on location, but this time, our testing felt much more focused. We were not living at the same hotel, but we would meet up in the morning and test Constructed for almost the whole day leading up to the Pro Tour. I arrived in Dublin on Tuesday along with fellow Finnish magician Sami Haeggkvist, and some of the Swedes were already there, so we got straight to testing

We had tested several decks online before arriving in Dublin, paying close attention to all the Standard tournaments that took place in the weeks leading up to the Pro Tour. We didn’t expect a lot of mono-red, as it is traditionally a deck people shy away from when playing on the Pro Tour. We were expecting a fair amount of G/W aggro with Boon Satyr, control variants such as W/U and Esper, along with a sizeable chunk of various midrange decks. We had tried building devotion, decks such as mono-red with Fanatic of Mogis, mono-black splashing a bit of white, and U/R Master of the Waves. I had been excited about Master of the Waves along with Young Pyromancer, but it just seemed that the deck was not good enough against control. We actually never tried adding Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to our deck, which was clearly a mistake when you looked at what other people were doing at the Pro Tour. Rather than write about all the various brews we tried along the way, I decided this time to include the lists at the end of the article as a sort of appendix. Perhaps you can use the lists as a base for some further explorations into the Standard format!

Wall of Frost
On the way to Dublin, it felt that G/W aggro and W/U control were the two decks I was most likely to play—they both had a lot of interaction and a reasonable chance against many different decks. Once the G/W decks online started to transition more to the green side and eschewed Soldier of the Pantheon and Brave the Elements in favor of Boon Satyr, Experiment One, and more of a tokens theme, I felt that the deck had a much better chance against the decks that were causing it headaches. Initial testing against W/U control showed that G/W had a lot of potential in the matchup, so we started to think of ways to improve the matchup from the W/U side. At some point in Dublin, I came up with Wall of Frost—it had been mentioned in some articles, and it was just amazing in the post-board games. Often, the board would become stalled so that the G/W player had to commit a large number of creatures, playing right into the W/U player’s game plan.

Once in Dublin, we also became quite interested in R/G Monstrous, as it seemed to be a deck that had potential against aggro thanks to the beefy creatures, and it also seemed to have game against control thanks to all the planeswalkers it could play. Andreas Eklund of Magic Online Championship Series fame (as Eken.), had been playing it online and had posted quite a solid record with it, so we proxied up a few versions for testing. Around this time, Joel Larsson also decided to build the Flying Men deck, the core of which had been proposed in a few articles during the weeks before the Pro Tour; but mostly, it was just as a wacky deck. I was not very convinced at first even though I loved Master of Waves, but once we started playing with the deck, it was very impressive in certain matchups. Master of Waves would regularly generate between 10 and 18 power on the fourth of fifth turn, and against decks that could not kill it, this was just insane. I liked Joel’s decision to go with the black splash since it makes such a huge difference against the decks that are tough for you to beat, such as the various control decks. The addition of black should also give you a big edge in the mirror, as you have ways to kill opposing Master of Waves. In the end, only Joel ended up playing the deck, as others, myself included, were too afraid that the unknown format might be too hostile toward the strategy, so we went with safer choices. Out of our nine-man testing group, three played W/U control, three played R/G Monstrous, one played B/R control, one played Boros Auras, and Joel played the aforementioned “Dark Skies.”

W/U Control

I think the W/U control list we had was very good and is super-solid deck overall. Not often have I played a deck that only has eleven distinct cards in the main deck, and this simplicity means that you are very consistent. I particularly like the deck because you have so few dead cards in the first game. At worst, you will have four Supreme Verdicts that are dead cards, but that is still far less than most decks have against you. The fact that your answers are so general is great because it allows you to answers all kinds of different threats. You are basically just concerned with permanents and spells, and you have two types of cards to deal with these. This type of generality made this an easy deck choice for an unknown field—things cannot go terribly wrong. I believe the final result between the three of us playing the deck was 18–11–1, which would mean a win percentage of 60%, which is quite good.

Here is the list we played.

The only card that wasn’t really performing well during the tournament was Divination, but I think it’s a necessary evil—at least as a two-of. In most aggressive matchups, you want to sideboard all of them out, but they are great against many midrange and control decks, especially ones playing discard. The Mutavaults were one of the main reasons to play only two colors, as they allow you to pressure planeswalkers in the control mirror, stopping your opponent from just running out Jace, Architect of Thought on the fourth turn and using the minus ability. Mutavault also works as great insurance against decks playing Mistcutter Hydra, allowing you to survive and then cast Supreme Verdict to clear the board. The sideboard featured the fourth Mutavault for the control mirror, along with Negates that are also great in the mirror. I might consider cutting one Negate in favor of a Gainsay, as it is good both against control and the blue-based devotion decks.

Precinct Captain
We first had Jace, Memory Adept in our sideboard, but we decided that it was yet another expensive sorcery-speed threat in the mirror, so we decided to go with the Precinct Captains instead, as you could also board those in for some of the aggressive matchups. I like that the Precinct Captains allow you to “get” opponents who are not prepared and who sideboard out most of their removal. It is also nice that Precinct Captains allows you to be proactive in a matchup that is otherwise mainly just about playing draw-go and seeing who blinks first. As in Block Constructed, Aetherling is still the most important card in the control mirror, and it is practically impossible to beat unless you are way ahead in some other fashion.

The Pithing Needles were very versatile and especially good against decks playing multiple planeswalkers, such as R/G Monstrous. The one Soldier of the Pantheon was basically our fourth anti-aggro card, as we did not want to play the full four Wall of Frosts. Celestial Flare proved to be a very valuable addition in a field heavy with Stormbreath Dragons and Mistcutter Hydras, so I would consider adding a second one going forward. The Ratchet Bomb was mainly against the G/W matchup and fast aggro decks with multiple 1-drops, but it also works as a nice answer to Mistcutter Hydra.

Limited

I had only played in one prerelease tournament and one real-life Draft before the Theros prereleases started on Magic Online, so I was very excited to play them. I had time to play about nine Drafts before leaving for Dublin, and while in Dublin, we played a few additional Drafts on Magic Online along with three real-life Drafts. I felt I had at least a decent grasp of the format, and I was able to converse with some players who had done a lot of Drafts. Many of the others thought that red was a very bad color, but I don’t quite know if I agree, though I do think that the other four colors are slightly better. W/U heroic was talked about as one of the best decks, and it does have access to a lot of good commons and uncommons. During the Pro Tour, it felt that other players were not so well prepared, but I will talk more about that next week.

The Story Continues

Be sure to tune in next week for the second part of my tournament report. I will go through the tournament and try to talk about some interesting situations that came up. As always, if you have any questions, ideas, suggestions or comments, be sure to contact me either via the comments section below or directly via Twitter.

Thanks for reading,

Max

@thebloom_ on Twitter

Maxx on Magic Online

You can find my music on: http://soundcloud.com/bloomlive

Appendix Decks


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