June 13, 2016

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Under the Radar - GP Minneapolis: "A Token Effort" (Day 2)

If you haven't read it, Day 1 is here.

Going into Day 2, I was 7-2, but my tiebreakers were pretty good:

Standings after 9 rounds

Hope was still alive but I was going to need some things to break my way.

Day 2



Walking around Minneapolis on Sunday, there were footprints made out of dirt, which turned out to be a promotion for the zoo. I thought this was pretty neat.

Round 10: Justin Hedgpeth with GW Tokens

Game 1, I flooded out a bit (drew five lands in a row), Game 2, he drew too few lands.

Game 3, Evolutionary Leap did excellent work. The game would have been much closer if he had found a second white source since at the end of the game he showed me two Gideon, Ally of Zendikar in hand.

Match Result: 2-1
Overall Score: 8-2
Overall Score in Games: 18-7

Round 11: Dave Yetka with 4C Rites

Game 1, I keep a hand with Sylvan Advocate, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and four lands. My next six draws are lands. I lose.

Game 2, I keep a hand with five cards with converted mana cost two, and two lands. I draw zero lands. I lose.

Match Result: 0-2
Overall Score: 8-3
Overall Score in Games: 18-9

Round 12: Phil Pham with 4C Rites

Game 1, I draw way too many lands. I lose. Game 2, I am stuck on three lands for four turns, but manage to make an attempt, as I find a fourth and a fifth land (coming in untapped, even!) to play Tragic Arrogance - which is met with a Warping Wail. I have the second Arrogance in hand, had I drawn the lands a turn earlier I would have stabilized (since he didn't have another counter in hand).

Match Result: 0-2
Overall Score: 8-4
Overall Score in Games: 18-11

At this point, I was pretty frustrated, since I had four "non-games" in a row due to mana - each of these hands were keepable and it would have been irresponsible to mulligan them. Some percentage of games of Magic will always fall like this.

Standard has a reasonably "flat" power level - there don't seem to be any overwhelming strategies or cards that crush everything else. This is why I want to play a deck that is consistent and has a lot of "play" to it. This is why I advocate playing GW Tokens. (Get it?) It was unfortunate that these "non-games" happened back to back to back to back, but that's Magic for you.

Round 13: Ben Jackson with BW Control

As I mentioned in Part 1, this configuration of GW Tokens doesn't seem to have too much trouble with BW Control. Evolutionary Leap is pretty much unbeatable, and Hangarback Walker is good at generating card advantage. He had some mana troubles Game 2.

Match Result: 2-0
Overall Score: 9-4
Overall Score in Games: 20-11

Round 14: Chris Cardwell with "Winnepeg White"

Game 1, it seemed like he was on what I would call "Eldrazi White", since I saw things like Eldrazi Displacer, Reality Smasher, Declaration in Stone, etc. I was able to deal with the Displacer, and Smasher isn't that much of a threat once I have a board.

Game 2, however, he opened like this:

Turn 1: Thraben Inspector

Turn 2: Hedron Crawler

Turn 3: Hanweir Militia Captain, Hanweir Militia Captain

Thankfully, I managed to get one Captain with a Dromoka's Command. However, he had more action and developed quite a board - because I had to spend my early turns playing removal he was threatening lethal very quickly. I managed to find a Tragic Arrogance just in time - and sitting at two life I decided to chump his 1/2 Hedron Crawler (from Gideon emblem) with my Plant Token, because there was no reason to risk dying if he had a combat trick that pumped power. The game went downhill from there.

Talking to him after the game, apparently two of his friends won Grinders (GPTs on site on Friday) with the same deck. The explosive draw he used as his pitch was T1 Inspector, T2 Militia Captain, T3 Secure the Wastes for 2, flip Captain on T4 upkeep and attack as a 4/4 or 5/5 with a Gideon Emblem. If you're looking for a White Eldrazi list that has a faster start, give this a spin!

How I approach the matchup: Against Eldrazi aggro decks, the important card to deal with is Eldrazi Displacer because it's a single card answer to most of the deck. Outside of that, I like killing their turn two Hedron Crawlers if possible, since if they're not playing a turn ahead the cards in GW Tokens line up well on the mana curve, Gideon is probably better than Thought-Knot Seer and Archangel Avacyn is probably better than Reality Smasher.

Match Result: 2-0
Overall Score: 10-4
Overall Score in Games: 22-11

Round 15: Jonathan Jansen with Naya Ramp

How I approach the matchup: Threats, threats, threats - that's what you need. A hand with answers and few threats is bad. I usually keep in Dromoka's Command to kill the smaller creatures they may play. Usually some number of Nissas and Hangarback Walkers hit the bench - you need to punch hard, and quickly.

Game 1, I had awkward mana and Ramp did what Ramp does. Game 2, my sideboard cards did great work; Surrak, the Hunt Caller is phenomenal. Game 3, I was stuck on three lands for a long, long time (until turn nine or ten) - but my non-land cards were mostly removal so I was at least able to keep trying to stay in the game. I used three Declaration in Stone, an Angelic Purge, and two Dromoka's Commands to kill Ramp's threats, but this version brought in many Tireless Trackers and, of course, the "it-girl"; Eldrazi Displacer. This was a long game three, which I lost - with 14 cards left in his library.

Match Result: 1-2
Overall Score: 10-5
Overall Score in Games: 23-13

With the main tournament done for everyone except the Top 8, we were still waiting on people playing other Sunday tournaments. Jake Mondello and I squared off against Canadian Superstar Alexander Hayne using Duel Decks (I had Vraska, Jake had Elspeth, Alex had Kiora) and a format I made up on the spot: budget Archenemy. The format was 2-Headed Giant except that one side had only one head but drew two cards a turn and could play two lands a turn. We played a best of five games, and Jake and I managed to win in five. It is surprisingly fun - next time you have three players and you want to play some form of multiplayer, try it out!

The Top 8 GP Minneapolis had the following breakdown:

  • Green-White Tokens: 2
  • Bant Humans: 3
  • Mono-White Humans: 1
  • Red-White Humans: 1
  • BW Control: 1

Here's the list that won, dropping no games in the Top 8:

Alex Johnson's Green-White Tokens

Humans was the only archetype I didn't face at the GP. It does look like the metagame is shifting back that way.

How I approach the matchup: Blocking properly is very important. Dromoka's Command is useful to get Always Watching or Gryff's Boon, but to maximize this you need a creature on turn two. Declaration in Stone on their two-drop buys a lot of time, and the clue it gives them isn't a big deal. A Declaration in Stone followed by Nissa or something is probably fine. Early interaction and early plays are the key in this matchup.

The configuration I used was not expecting a lot of humans - though the Declaration in Stones help a lot there. To address this shift, moving forward I'm looking at something more like this:

A Token Effort - Updated

Creatures (14)
4 Hangarback Walker
2 Den Protector
4 Sylvan Advocate
4 Archangel Avacn
Enchantments (6)
Instants (4)
Planeswalkers (8)
Sorceries (3)
Lands (25)
4 Canopy Vista
Sideboard (15)
2 Stasis Snare
1 Dragonlord Dromoka
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer

I didn't use to be a huge fan of Stasis Snare but it does good work against Eldrazi Displacer, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and many other problem creatures for the deck. Going down to three Declarations necessitates three Tragic Arrogance I think - assuming four Colour Rites decks continue to be a thing. TA is also amazing against Humans decks, a reward for surviving until turn five. Thraben Inspector and Tireless Tracker add threats at spots on the curve that are a bit weak currently.

This is the deck that I played at the PPTQ on Saturday at the Kessel Run and it played pretty well. As long as no deck is created that dominates the rest of the format, I would continue to recommend Green White Tokens.

Thanks for reading!


Follow me on Twitter @JohnMBent and find me on MTGO at: fightingmongoose.