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Taking on a Standard RCQ with Four-Color Control


RCQ season is here, and I am excited. In the next 12 weeks or so, I have about 10 RCQs to play in. Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, I had 2 Pro Tour Qualifiers each season that were "close" in Phoenix, 2 hours away. After that we would make a few trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, or Albuquerque to get more qualification chances. Each of those trips required 5-10 hours of driving each way.

To have 10 RCQs within an hour. How wonderful is that, and Standard is actually being played! Of all the decks that I tested, tried, and messed around with over the past 2 months in Standard, I will be playing a Four-color control deck. After all, if Up the Beanstalk needs to be banned in Modern, then it should be REALLY good for Standard. Right?

Up the Beanstalk

In modern, I know that Beanstalk benefited from things like Shardless Agent to essentially have more chances to draw it, and creatures like Solitude and Fury to cast for free. The card advantage is just so vicious and it is nice that Beanstalk replaces itself. A few months ago in a store championship, I had the opportunity to be crushed by the winner who played Bant control grabbing their deck list basically straight from the first place winner in the big Japanese tournament. That is when I learned the power of The Wandering Emperor and planeswalkers more generally...

Planeswalkers didn't exist when I stopped playing Magic back around 2005.

One of the things about that Bant control list that I didn't like is that it didn't take advantage of either red or black despite having a good starting access to those color from the Capenna triomes. Since Raffine's Tower had the main Blue/White of the deck, it seemed that Black would be easy to add for at least Atraxa, Grand Unifier, and maybe there would be other good Black cards to slot in.

Raffine's Tower
Spara's Headquarters
Ziatora's Proving Ground

Ultimately, I settled on Preacher of the Schism as a great card in Black. There were many options which required two black mana, but Preacher does everything we want. It is 2/4 deathtouch which will help immensely with aggressive decks and is impervious to Lightning Strike and Cut Down. Additionally, it can draw cards for me every turn or give me additional critters. Back in my day, one season was dominated by control with Ophidian for card drawing, maybe Preacher can bring that back.

Preacher of the Schism

In previous play, I learned just how good and critical Chrome Host Seedshark is, so it is out of the sideboard and into the main deck. Locally, I see many decks that HATE the flying shark. They are either aggressive decks that hate 2/4 critters or decks that win through the superiority of their card quality and the extra incubate tokens really stick in their craw (as they say). Just about everything in this deck provides great advantages over time, and with six 2/4 critters for three mana, I think that I am only scared of that Bant poison deck going around. Midrange should just fall, most aggro decks won't have enough juice to get through, and other control decks are MUCH heavier on creature removal.

Chrome Host Seedshark

Ok, I admit... I am also scared of getting a color problem or a land that will come into play tapped when I need an untapped land, but I think that I have addressed this after local testing. Everything written above the deck list was written before the first RCQ tournament, but after some local tournament testing.

One thing that I like about the sideboard is the ability to move from a deck with a good amount of creatures to being more planeswalker heavy. Depending on the opponent and how initial games go, they might find a keen desire of having a significant amount of creature removal which will become mostly useless. It would probably be more prudent to have more Temporary Lockdowns and Knockout Blows, but I like the idea of this fun!

So, here is the deck I am taking.

The tournament was a 2-slot RCQ with 18 participants. 5 Rounds, cut to top 8.

Round 1 - Versus 4-Color Cauldron Combo

The deck my opponent is playing is built around Agatha's Soul Cauldron, looking to add untapping capabilities from Sleep-Cursed Faerie, and mana producing capabilities from Kami of Whispered Hopes to produce infinite mana and then destroy me. They are a bunch of cards to help with this like Tyvar, Jubilant Brawler, Fallaji Archeologist, Likeness Looter, and Seed of Hope. An excellent build.

Agatha's Soul Cauldron
Sleep-Cursed Faerie
Kami of Whispered Hopes

In the first game, I'm able to kill their creatures that are going to get +1/+1 counters and remove any Soul Cauldron fast enough to not be subject to their combo. As a result, I win. I just removed everything from play and played an Atraxa, Grand Unifier around turn eight or so. The fact that they took a mulligan Game 1 was helpful.

Sideboard: Removed The Wandering Emperor and some other cards, in went 3 Jace, The Perfected Mind, +1 Get Lost, and 2 Temporary Lockdowns

Game 2 I was the one who needed to mulligan. Early in the game (probably turn four) I was able to play a Temporary Lockdown removing an Archeologist, 2 Likeness Looters, and 1 Sleep-Curse Faerie. He had a few turns of opportunity to Boseiju my lockdown at the end of my turn, play an Agatha's Soul Cauldron and win, but didn't have the cards. While lockdown was in effect, I was able to cast Farewell removing 1 cauldron, 1 critter, and the graveyard. This was very helpful.

Score 1-0

Round 2 - Bant Control

This was as close to a mirror match as I was going to have in the tournament. My deck started from the base of the deck I was playing against, but I wanted to have more creatures in the main deck, Black, Atraxa, and so on.

Ultimately, there isn't much to report on other than that I drew 4 Up the Beanstalk fairly naturally (without digging) and my opponent drew 0. The few extra draws and card advantage of casting Atraxa, Grand Unifier was enough to win the game. He only had 3 Syncopates in his deck to prevent me from benefiting significantly from Atraxa's silly enter the battlefield effect.

In Game 2, I was able to Boseiju their Mirrex before they made any Phyrexian Mites. I was glad for this, Mirrex is one of the cards that I sacrificed access to in order to make my colors work and it was one of the few opportunities that they had to be able to create a board state that would have been problematic for me to deal with.

Sideboard: -4 Sunfall, -1 Chrome Host Seedshark, +1 Get Lost, +4 Planeswalkers. Next time with an updated sideboard (which might have Faerie Mastermind, I would potentially become more aggressive while they probably sideboard out their Sunfalls)

It is important to note here that Up the Beanstalk was key and being able to neutralize theirs in additional ways will be very good.

Score 2-0

Round 3 - Esper Mid Range with Wedding Announcement, Raffine, Virtue of Loyalty, Wandering Emperor, and so on.

Game 1, I establish control thanks to 2 Sunfalls in addition to spot removal and some extra cards from Up the Beanstalk. Atraxa, Grand Unifier put the nails in the coffin as we were both low on cards when I cast it, but not afterward (obviously.)

Game 2, he was able to grab 2 of my cards with Deep-Cavern Bats and know that I had a Sunfall in hand (Chrome Host Seedshark was too good to be allowed to stay). He cast Destroy Evil on my early Preacher of the Schism. Eventually I was able to keep a Seedshark in play and build up so many Incubate tokens that he resigned. The Wandering Emperor on his side held me off for a while, but the board state and card advantage of my cards eventually proved to be too powerful.

Score 3-0

Round 4 - I took an intentional draw and was able to check out the field, we had (that I saw):

  • 1 Cauldron Combo
  • 2 Typical Domain Decks
  • 2 Multicolored Control decks (me and my round 2 opponent)
  • 1 Bant Poison deck
  • 1 Four-Color Slogurk Legends Deck
  • 1 Monastery Mentor deck
  • 1 Mono-Red deck
  • 1 Rakdos Midrange
  • 4+ (maybe more) Esper Midrange decks

Score 3-0-1

Round 5 - Another draw, and I ended up as the top seed. 3-0-2

Top 8 - Rematch versus Round 3 opponent

Game 1 - This went a long time, he got a great start thanks to a turn two Dennick that I had not seen from him previously and an early Raffine. I was able to stabilize the board state and then gain life and cycle through cards thanks to The Celestus. Eventually Atraxa, Grand Unifier hit the table just before I would lose, and he had numerous looks for a Go for rhe Throat thanks to map tokens from Get Lost and Raffine and couldn't get one in time to win while I was tapped out.

Game 2- My opponent mulliganed once and came out of the gates swinging. My notes here are fuzzy, but I eventually stabilized and won the game. There was a moment early in this game where after playing Elspeth Resplendent and grabbing a Chrome Host Seedshark with the minus ability, at the end of his turn he played Go for the Throat and then played nothing on the next turn to activate his Restless Anchorage in order to take out Elspeth.

Top 8 - Rematch versus Cauldron Combo

Game 1 - I mulligan, choosing to keep Farewell in my hand and put back Sunfall. I get comboed out where next turn Farewell would have cleaned up the board enough to stabilize for the win.

Game 2 - My removal was insufficient and I got comboed out. What else is there to say?

So, overall in the end I went 4-1-2 and lost the match that I would have needed to win in order to qualify for the Regional Championship. There are still many opportunities to qualify and I think that I will be able to before it is all done.

In terms of the deck, I think it is fantastic. Other than Up the Beanstalk, Chrome Host Seedshark is the clear MVP of the deck. Additionally, since I have so many 3-drop creatures, the importance of having that 5th board wipe falls off.

So, in honor of that, I made a slight change to the main deck removing 1 Celestus and 1 Farewell to add in +1 Chrome Host Seedshark and +1 Elspeth Resplendent to have more of my MVPs and an additional way to search for them.

Adjusted Sideboard is as follows:

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