Another Top 8, another heartbreak (Part 1)

By Michael Tabler - Last updated: Thursday, May 26, 2011 -

Last weekend I took a trip down to Louisville, Kentucky with some members of Team Mythic and other friends from across the Michigan border to battle some Standard and Legacy. Typically when we go to one of these events there’s some pretty intensive testing being done weeks prior to hammer out lists and make sure we know the decks we’re playing inside and out. Things didn’t work out that way this time. Since it’s summer and many of us play baseball and softball several days during the week, thus leaving very little time for testing just theorizing. So as my buddy Chris and I got off of work Friday we decided to just load up the car with all of our standard stuff and the good legacy cards and just build our decks when we got to Louisville. So, after a five hour drive and starting to dig through cards we realized that we forgot an Ultra Pro carrying case full of legacy cards we needed and a couple standard decks at home.

I had the stuff I needed for whichever deck I chose to play, but Chris was missing some key cards for his Birthing Pod deck, luckily we were able to borrow cards from Joey and Andrew (check for list in next report). After playing some games with Darkblade and UW Cawblade earlier in the week I really didn’t want to play mirror matches all day so I decided to try something a little off the radar, but that actually packed a solid punch, Shrine Red. Here’s the list I registered:

4 Shrine of the Burning Rage

4 Goblin Guide
4 Ember Hauler
2 Spikeshot Elder
2 Manic Vandal

4 Burst Lightning
1 Combust
1 Crush
1 Dismember
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Searing Blaze
4 Staggershock

2 Koth of the Hammer

1 Flame Slash

11 Mountain
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Teetering Peaks

3 Act of Aggression
3 Combust
1 Crush
3 Dismember
2 Manic Vandal
3 Phyrexian Revoker

My logic behind actually trying out this deck was that we would still be seeing the inbred Cawblade lists battling each other which would leave them vulnerable to a deck like this. The decks would still be threat-light and would look for answers against those threats rather than looking at something like Leyline of Sanctity which obviously shuts this deck down. Any other deck I would have a pretty favorable matchup if I don’t have to mulligan into oblivion or barring some nut draw by my opponent.

ROUND 1, Matt Stephens (UB Control)
Matt wins the roll and leads off with a Creeping Tarpit. I play a Scalding Tarn, fetch up a Mountain and cast Spikeshot Elder. On his turn he plays a land and passes. I attack him to 19 with the Elder, play an Ember Hauler and pass back. On his turn he plays a Jace Beleren and passes. I attack him with my men putting him to 16, drop a Shrine and pass. From here he starts to unload on my team with removal. I just let my Shrine tick up to ten between turns and a slew of burn spells and quickly nuke him. Game two is much of the same as I’m able to mow him down with an Ember Hauler and Manic Vandal, and then burn him out with a Staggershock and Lightning Bolt.

ROUND 2, Josh Oerther (BUG)
I win the die roll this time and lead off with an Arid Mesa into a Spikeshot Elder again and pass the turn. Josh plays a land and passes. On my turn I play an ember Hauler and attack him down to 19. Josh plays an Explore on his turn and passes back. On my turn I play a land and attack with my men taking him to 16 and pass. We both play this game to the point where I have Josh at 7 when he plays a Misty Rainforest, cracks it for a Forest to cast a Wurmcoil Engine. On my turn I’m able to burn him out with double Burst Lightning and a Bolt. Game two runs very much like game one except Josh helps me out with three points of damage via fetch lands. The game ends exactly like it does game one with him playing out a Wurmcoil Engine, passing the turn and me unloading the burn in my hand.

ROUND 3, Chris Hurlbut (GW Birthing Pod)
This round I’m stuck playing a teammate which is never fun, but since its way too early to draw we’re stuck playing. Chris wins the roll and leads off with a land and passes. I played an Arid Mesa, cast and attacked with a Goblin Guide. He cracks a Misty Rainforest and casts a Stoneforge Mystic nabbing a Batterskull and passes. I kill the Mystic at the end of his turn. Here’s where the game gets a little nutty as we both proceed to play land go for the next three turns as I whittle him away with a Goblin Guide and start to tick up a Shrine. The game comes down to him getting a Thrun and Vengevine into play and attacking me down to four. On my turn I needed to draw one of the 15 burn spells left in my deck to tick up the Shrine and take game one, but I draw another land and scoop ‘em up. Game two doesn’t go well for me either. I start the game off with an Arid Mesa into a Goblin Guide. He plays a land, Birds of Paradise and passes. I play a land, burn the Birds and get in with the guide again. On his turn he drops a Stoneforge getting a Sword of War and Peace indicating he’s got a Batterskull in hand. On my turn I drop an Ember Hauler, burn his Mystic and attack him down to 14. On his turn he plays the Sword and passes. I attack him down to 10 on my turn, but this is where the game would literally stop for me. He’s able to drop a Llanowar Elves and strap the Sword to it and catch me with no burn in hand just land. I take my turn and draw a land to go along with the rest of them in my hand and it all goes downhill as he continuously plays more men and me more men. He quickly ends the game after a couple Sword hits.

ROUND 4, Charles Hatmaker (Valakut)
Charles wins the roll and begins the game with a Terramorphic and passes. I start off with a Mountain into a Goblin Guide and take him to 18. On his turn he cracks a Misty Rainforest and plays an Overgrown Battlement. On my turn I attack into the Battlement and he blocks. I then play my land for the turn and Searing Blaze the Battlement and him for three. On his turn he plays a land, Harrows and passes. On my turn I attack again with the Guide and play an Ember Hauler. On his turn he plays another land and passes, just one short of the Titan mana that he needs. On my turn I attack him to eight and burn him out. Game two is much of the same. I drop a Guide turn one and attack him to 16 before he Slagstorms it away. I then drop an Ember Hauler and unload all the burn in my hand over the next three turns.

ROUND 5, Matt Simmons (Vampires)
I win the roll this round and drop the Guide on turn one. The guide actually takes him down to 10 as all he has in his grip is a bunch of Bloodghast and I Searing Blaze, Burst Lighting, and Staggershock him out for the rest of the damage. Game two he gets a pretty nutty draw with double Inquisition and strips my hand of threats while he again has multiple Bloodghast that I’m unable to deal with. In game three I’m able to get my own nut draw beginning with a Goblin Guide on turn one. On turn two I get a Teetering Peaks on the Guide and attack him to 14. On his turn he’s able to play a Vampire Hexmage, but that meets a Burst Lightning at the end of his turn. I attack him to 12 with the Guide and play an Ember Hauler. On his turn he cracks a Verdant Catacombs and plays another Hexmage and a Lacerator and passes. I play another Ember Hauler on my turn and use it to get rid of the Hexmage and attack with my other men. He plays a Kalastria Highborn and another Lacerator on his turn, but I have the burn in my hand to finish him off.

ROUND 6, Garett Young (Valakut)
This round is extremely ugly in terms of draws. Game one I have to mulligan to four cards as I never found a suitable hand with a land spell mix. I quickly get demolished by a turn four Inferno Titan. Game two is much better as I get a pretty nutty draw involving double Goblin Guide and double Ember Hauler. He Slagstorms away the two Guides, but the Haulers were there to pick up the slack along with a few burn spells. Game three came down to Garett having to win before I did on my turn 5. Luckily for him he was able to cast a turn 4 Inferno Titan to help him out and he was able to deal 15 points to me in one turn. Had I been able to take my next turn I would have been able to Lightning Bolt him and activate a Shrine for seven points of damage that would have been lethal.

ROUND 7, Justin Roley (UB Infect)
This round I was feeling the effects of the previous. I had to mulligan to five game one and had to deal with a Phyrexian Crusader on turn three along with a Throne of Geth and multiple artifacts to quickly tally up the poison total on me. I lose on turn six. In game two Justin has the mulligan blues and goes down to five as well. I’m able to get a Goblin Guide turn one and Peaks it turn two. On my turn four I’m able to get a Koth into play and he scoops. Game three is a lot more different than any other game I had played all day as I opened up with two Mountains and five burn spells and drew nothing but burn the rest of the game. The life total for Justin goes 18, 15, 12, 8, and then dead from massive amounts of burn in the meanwhile I end up with five poison counters from an Inkmoth Nexus and Throne of Geth.

ROUND 8, Aaron Stockman (Darkblade)
Finally I get to see how good or bad this match is! I don’t know how I managed to do so, but I had dodged this matchup all day and was really looking forward to seeing how well this deck performed against all the equipment and discard this deck typically packs. I win the roll and lead off with a Goblin Guide taking him to 18. On his turn he plays a Creeping Tarpit and passes back. I play a Teetering Peaks and attack him to 14 with the Guide. On his turn he Inquisitions me and takes a Staggershock. I attack him to 12 with the Guide and pass. On his turn he plays a Stoneforge Mystic digging up Batterskull. I crack an Arid Mesa at the end of his turn and Searing Blaze it and him for three. On my turn I drop a Koth and he scoops. Game two is incredibly for him. On turn one he Inquisitions me and takes a Staggershock. I play a Mountain and pass. On his turn two he plays another Inquisition and Duress and takes the other two burn spells in my hand leaving me with a land and two Dismembers. I play my land for the turn and pass back. On his turn his strategy in revealed as he plays a Mirran Crusader. He plays another on his following turn and I’m unable to draw anymore burn that game and lose quickly.

ROUND 9, Chris Anderson (Darkblade)
Last round is for a top 16 appearance for me and fellow Team Mythic member Chris Hurlbut. I win the roll and start off with the trusty Goblin Guide. The Guide actually takes him down to 10 points of damage and I have a TON of burn in my hand, but am unable to get to my third land for three consecutive turns to cast the three Staggershocks in my hand to finish him off and lose to Batterskull. Game two happens in the exact same fashion, except I’m stuck on one land with everything in my hand being one casting cost. Sadly he has double Inquisition to take my second Goblin Guide and Lightning Bolt to make the game any closer or give me a chance on the one land. Oh well, those are the draws you get sometimes.

This deck feels incredibly powerful. It plays much like a control deck and you always have some sort of answer to whatever threat is facing you. The deck is cold to a Leyline of Sanctity, but not many sideboards are running that. I have another teammate who has splashed black in the deck strictly for Dark Tutelage to keep the burn spells coming. That is something that I will be testing out in the future as well. Unfortunately my round three opponent of Team Mythic, Chris Hurlbut, and myself missed out on top 16 by losing in the last round and missed top 32 on breakers as well. Had we both won we would have finished 15th and 16th respectively on breakers. Not much we can do when we get bad draws but to look forward to some legacy, the format we actually came to play!

Thanks for reading and check in later this week for my legacy tournament report!

Michael Tabler About Michael Tabler
I started playing Magic: The Gathering in 1995 with the release of Ice Age and quickly fell in love with the game. I've been to two Pro Tours and have multiple Star City Games top 8's including two trophies, one in Standard and the other in Legacy. I spend most of my time playing Eternal formats as I enjoy the complexity of them and the ability to play combo whenever possible.

Posted in News • • Top Of Page