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May 12, 2017

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Going for the Gold – GP Richmond Recap + Pro Tour Amonkhet Standard

Hey loyal reader! Thanks for making it out to this week’s Going for the Gold.

Last weekend, I was at Grand Prix Richmond and finished a paltry 10-5 after a stellar 8-1 start on Day One. At least I got an additional pro point, which puts me at a total of 25, 10 points away (four if I include minimum finishes at the remaining Pro Tours) from achieving Gold status for next year.

Here’s my recap from Day One:

So what happened in the drafts?

I sat down to my first pod with two people that I knew, Travis Woo and Jeffrey Ashkins. I first picked a Fan Bearer, then quickly became the UR cycling deck when I was passed a late Drake Haven. Poor Travis Woo had the 14th card in his Pack B stuck to the wrapper and the judge decided to reveal it for some reason, in what seemed like a momentary brain fart, and to everyone’s surprise the card was Glorybringer. Someone at the table complained that the pack should be replaced since it was unfair, and poor Travis lost a quality bomb to a judge’s poor decision making.

Here’s the deck I drafted:

Grand Prix Richmond Draft 1 Deck

(40)
10 Island
Mountain
Sheltered Thicket
Aven Initiate
Battlefield Scavenger
Bloodrage Brawler
Cartouche of Knowledge
Compelling Argument
Drake Haven
Electrify
Floodwaters
Glyph Keeper
Hekma Sentinels
Illusory Wrappings
Minotaur Sureshot
Nimble-Blade Khenra
River Serpent
Trial of Knowledge

I thought my deck was ridiculous because I had seven one-mana cyclers and two Drake Havens alone with other cycling matter cards, but the deck just ended up flooding out too much and I regretfully 0-3’d the draft. Here’s my public service announcement, pass Drake Haven. It’s a trap!

So there I was at 8-4 and I take a look at my pod seatings (since I was the first to arrive at the table) and realize that I’m at a Pro Tour quality draft pod now.

pods

This time, I hope to draft a very aggressive GW deck after first picking Prepare // Fight, which should be able to at least let me 2-1 to get a pro point from this Grand Prix. But the power level of the packs seems to be pretty bad, and I end up with what seems like a deck that’s a few cards away from stellar:

Grand Prix Richmond Draft 2 Deck

(40)
Forest
Plains
Irrigated Farmland
Bitterblade Warrior
Cartouche of Solidarity
Colossapede
Edifice of Authority
Fan Bearer
Hooded Brawler
Honed Khopesh
In Oketra’s Name
Oketra’s Monument
Prepare // Fight
Shed Weakness
Trial of Strength
Tah-Crop Elite
Those Who Serve
Unwavering Initiate
Winged Shepherd

In the first round of the draft I flooded out twice when my opponent was at two life, and was already looking to drop and watch my friend Mike Brierley, who was playing for an X-3 finish. I showed up resigned for round 14. Luckily Carlos Romao decided not to, which gave me one win and put me one step closer to getting that final coveted pro point. In the last round, I played a RB deck that played two Insult // Injury, and I was barely able to squeak out both games due to Edifice of Authority. That card is insane!

Also kudos to Mike who got there and achieved his first 12-3 finish!

Now what you’ve really been waiting for… what are my pick orders for this limited format? (The colours and cards are in the order of preference)

Black Uncommons:

Black Commons:

White Uncommons:

White Commons:

Red Uncommons:

Red Commons:

Green Uncommons:

Green Commons:
(Naga Vitalist only in non-GW decks)

Blue Uncommons:

Blue Commons:

As always, pick orders are really only useful in a vacuum and cards will move higher depending on what archetype you’re playing. This format is very aggressive and playing the control role in Draft will put you too far behind to stay in the game. This makes Blue the worst colour as its commons are focused on controlling the game. When I first started doing my pick orders to prepare for the Pro Tour, I had removal spells much higher, but the games never played out where removal was as important as the tempo. Exert also forces you to play the “premium” removal spells on 2 drops.

Okay, now back to our regular scheduled programming…

Wait, the Pro Tour is this weekend? Okay, well because we covered the draft component, I guess we can talk about Standard!

Today, I’ll walk you through how Standard currently looks and what must be done to be competitive in this new metagame. There are so many decks out there, but really only three that are competitive!

Mardu Vehicles

Planeswalker (4)
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

Creature (18)
Toolcraft Exemplar
Thraben Inspector
Scrapheap Scrounger
Walking Ballista
Archangel Avacyn
Thalia, Heretic Cathar

Sorcery (1)
Cut // Ribbons

Instant (8)
Fatal Push
Unlicensed Disintegration

Artifact (4)
Heart of Kiran

Land (25)
Inspiring Vantage
Concealed Courtyard
Spire of Industry
Aether Hub
Shambling Vent
Canyon Slough
Plains
Swamp
Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Cut // Ribbons
Sorin, Grim Nemesis
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Fumigate
Transgress the Mind
Oath of Liliana
Release the Gremlins
Painful Truths
Anguished Unmaking
Glorybringer

Standard’s old top dog is still at the top of the heap and has only gotten stronger with the ban of Felidar Guardian. This deck plays the best cards in Standard and is viewed as the safe choice for the Pro Tour. Most amateurs are expected to show up with this deck. Can you blame them? It’s so powerful and can attack from a different angle in the sideboarded games!

BUG Marvelworks

Planeswalker (2)
Liliana, Death’s Majesty

Creature (15)
Demon of Dark Schemes
Ishkanah, Grafwidow
Rogue Refiner
Servant of the Conduit
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

Sorcery (5)
Attune with Aether
Traverse the Ulvenwald

Instant (4)
Fatal Push

Artifact (7)
Aetherworks Marvel
Woodweaver’s Puzzleknot

Enchantment (6)
Oath of Jace
Vessel of Nascency

Land (81)
Aether Hub
Blooming Marsh
Botanical Sanctum
Evolving Wilds
Forest
Island
Swamp
60 Cards

Sideboard (14)
Demon of Dark Schemes
Dispel
Lost Legacy
Manglehorn
Negate
Tireless Tracker

Aetherworks Marvel was the breakout deck of Pro Tour Kaladesh in October. With the decrease in the number of control decks, and the format moving toward fast aggressive decks, this is poised to make a big comeback. The only downside is that the deck can lose to itself, since spinning a wheel to win the game on the spot is nerve-wracking… for both players!

Mono Black Zombies

Creature (23)
Cryptbreaker
Diregraf Colossus
Dread Wanderer
Lord of the Accursed
Metallic Mimic
Relentless Dead

Sorcery (4)
Dark Salvation

Instant (6)
Fatal Push
Grasp of Darkness

Enchantment (4)
Liliana’s Mastery

Land (23)
21 Swamp
Westvale Abbey

Sideboard (15)
Fatal Push
Collective Brutality
Dispossess
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Ob Nixilis Reignited
Plague Belcher
Transgress the Mind

The new kid on the block, Zombies is surprisingly resilient and plays out a lot better than it looks on paper. It will definitely be the breakout deck of the Pro Tour, as it has not yet made an appearance at the professional level.

As the metagame currently evolves before this Pro Tour, it’s probably a good idea to see how you can build a control deck that will halt Marvel, compete against the Mardu menace, and find a way to remove the recursive threats of Zombies. Magma Spray, a new card from the Amonkhet block, has given control decks a way to combat Scrapheap Scrounger, Dread Wanderer, and Relentless Dead. There are so many new cards out there, and a whole new Standard to discover.

I’m excited to see how Pro Tour Amonkhet turns out!

See you next week.

Sammy T