February 22, 2018

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The Modern Rogue Report – To be a Rogue…

Hello everyone! It is an astounding privilege for me to join the crew here at MTGCanada to write about my favourite Magic format, Modern!

In this weekly series I’ll be looking at decks that are not of the norm; decks that one doesn’t expect to play against when going to a bigger tournament. Deck lists that I look at will vary in their price range from absolutely budget to top tier, and won’t always be meant to be the most competitive.

I’m a pretty competitive player and do a fair amount of grinding. I’m based in Hamilton, ON, which allows for easy access to a lot of the premier Canadian tournaments. I enjoy playing a wide variety of strategies and formats, which include both top tier and rogue decks. I enjoy playing rogue decks because I find a sense of artistry and creativity in building and playing differently.

I believe my experimentation in Magic was most influenced by the Khans of Tarkir set. I started playing Magic in Theros and at the time Khans had come out, I had never seen a format that was so… predictable.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED crushing Abzan mirror-matches and wind-mill slamming Siege Rhinos, but it got old. There’s nothing more exciting and concerning in Magic than having to pick up somebody else’s card to read it. Conversely, having them read all of your cards feels fantastic. I’d like to think I have a pretty extensive knowledge of oddities in Magic, especially for only playing since Theros, but the rabbit hole in Mt:G is ever deepening.

I’ve been writing this series for the past ten-ish weeks for MTGDeckTechs but have decided to move it here as I transition. This will leave more opportunity for me to explore other formats and more experimental content there.

rogues passage

There aren’t many guildelines here at The Rogue Report, but let’s establish a few:

No popular decks! We’ll only be looking at decks that are approximately 3% or less of the meta. (3% rule)
At least one deck list per week! That’s the good stuff!
Weekly reports, except when I am travelling to compete.
Recaps will be posted for Modern tournaments I play in, including Opens, Invitational Qualifiers, Invitationals, Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers, Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers, and Grand Prix. Anything more important than an LGS weekly/FNM.
I WILL however, be breaking the 3% rule for tournament reports if I was playing a more popular deck.

To be a Rogue…

Most people have the wrong impression of what a “rogue deck” is. Admittedly, I still use the term improperly. I sometimes use it, as most people do, to describe something that is just completely out of left field. Good or bad. Jank level over 9,000. However, during some light research into the topic, I found a 2015 article written by Adrian Sullivan for StarCityGames. I suggest giving it a read for some slight insight into history of rogue magic players and practices.

A pair of sentences from his article really resonated with me: “A rogue deck isn’t different for difference’s sake. A rogue deck is a good deck (or even a great deck) that just isn’t something people expected to play against.” – Adrian Sullivan

adrian sullivan

I read that pair of sentences probably fifty times. Legit.

I realized that, somewhere along the line, I learned to like expressing myself and my artistic side through Magic, but there was a time and place to do that. Sometimes I would settle on a deck just because nobody else would play it. As I gain more experience though, Adrian’s point becomes increasingly clearer.

I was missing the part where the deck had to be good, or even great as a starting point. Turns out playing Zubera Rally isn’t actually “going rogue”. Unexpected? Yes. Rogue-like even? Maybe. I guess from here it’s all a matter of perspective; what is a good deck? How does one identify a good deck?

The deck has to at very least be able to stand up to linchpins of the format. It’s really hard to tell for me, especially because decks go from being good to bad and vise versa over time. I’ve definitely seen decks like Living End, U/R Storm, and Bogles popularity ebb and flow over time and would consider all three of these decks good. Or good enough, I guess.

On the Horizon…

Next week I’ll be back on Thursday with some random rogue goodies. I’m in preparation mode for a Modern invitational at Top8Gaming in Niagara Falls, ON. The tournament is 16-players, invite-only (hence invitational), five-round swiss, cut to Top 8. Top prize walks away with 1k cash.

If you’d like to root me on as the newest member of the MTGCanada community, please drop by on Sunday, March 4th at noon time. You can find the event streamed at www.twitch.tv/top8gaming, starting at approximately 12pm EST.

If you’re feeling extra supportive you can join me on February 25th at the exact same time and place, as I was fortunate enough to also qualify for their Standard invitational.

Get Skreducated!

In closing, I’d like to share some Mono R Skred with you. This was the deck I took to the last Modern qualifier at Top8Gaming. At the time I still had not won a seat at the invitational, so my chance at $1k was on the line.

I went into the day with one player two points ahead of me and one player 16 points ahead of me. Awkwardly enough, with the way the point system works, every win on this day would be worth nine points. I ended up being essentially forced to play my round five, as if I would have drawn into Top 8, I’d have to win the tournament outright rather than just beat the other player on points.

He did not make Top 8 due to tie-breakers, which meant if I won my quarter-final round, I was in. And I did just that…

…then died to Burn in the semis.

Here’s the list that won me another shot at $1,000:

Skred Red

Creature (9)
Eternal Scourge
Hazoret the Fervent
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Stormbreath Dragon

Planeswalker  (4)
Koth of the Hammer

Spell  (12)
Lightning Bolt
Skred
Magma Jet
Anger of the Gods

Artifact  (10)
Pyrite Spellbomb
Mind Stone
Relic of Progenitus
Batterskull

Enchantment (3)
Blood Moon

Land  (22)
Scrying Sheets
20 Snow-Covered Mountain

Sideboard  (15)
By Force
Grafdigger’s Cage
Shattering Spree
Dragon’s Claw
Blood Sun
Goblin Rabblemaster
Molten Rain
Boil
Hour of Devastation

Some quick notes:
– If you ever get the chance, strap Batterskull onto Goblin Rabblemaster. Gosh, that was fun.
– I once raced a Burn player’s double Eidolon of the Great Revel with a Stormbreath Dragon and a Hazoret the Fervent. Woweeee.
Blood Moon can still be very back-breaking against Burn.
– I do not currently have access to two copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. This is the reason for the inclusion of Hazoret the Fervent.

blood moon

I really thought that Blood Moon was a great card in the current Modern landscape, so I went ahead and forced Skred. I was convinced that I was just being a jank-lord and punting my chances at getting in the invitational, but for once it worked out. My thinking was that Blood Moon is fantastic against the many greedy mana bases (ie. Death’s Shadow, 5c Humans) and big mana decks (ie. Tron, Eldrazi Tron).

Usually I go a little too hard on trying to outsmart local-store metagames, but this time the technology was just right. Skred is by no means a fantastic deck, but I definitely saw that it is a capable deck. With Blood Moon being such a fantastic card right now, it made up for some of the other shortcomings the deck has.

MY THANKS!

I want to say thanks so much to anyone who takes the time to read my articles. If you have any comments, questions, suggestions or advice in good taste – please comment, like, and/or share! By no means do I consider myself to be a guru of Magic, but I am very passionate about it. I enjoy spreading the knowledge I do have and helping build communities and stronger players.

This has been the 10th edition of The Rogue Report, (first time here at MTGCanada) thanks for dropping by, and I’ll catch you next week!