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April 28, 2015

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Euro Trip with Pascal Maynard

Hi, fellow magicians. I’m finally home from our Team Wizard Tower European trip – where 5 friends and I tested together for both Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir and GP Krakow. I have to say I’m grateful to write this live from my bed, it has been a while since we’ve been together.

My Pro Tour didn’t go very well and it’s mainly on the back of my weakness to the Standard format in general. Standard formats are usually centered around Midrange being the best deck or the deck to beat and Midrange as always been something I disliked playing, hence making me less aware of how to play or build those decks. I do well in Standard when I can play something Control, Combo or Aggro basically. Unfortunately, our small sample size of testing would later reveal that we had no good non-midrange decks.

I settled on Sidisi-Whip, not because I thought it was the best deck, not because I thought it was under radar and I even had pretty much the same 75 as Reid Duke had at the Invitational. I chose it because it was the only midrange deck that I understood how to build and play. The second reason was that our testing determined that Abzan Aggro and RG Dragons would be popular and I didn’t mind either of those matchups.

Here’s the list:

Sidisi Whip – Pascal Maynard

Creatures: (25)
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Kruphix
Satyr Wayfinder
Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Sidisi, Undead Vizier
Tasigur, the Golden Fang
Torrent Elemental
Dragonlord Silumgar
Hornet Queen
Reclamation Sage
Silumgar, the Drifting Death
Soul of Innistrad

Spells: (12)
Murderous Cut
Sultai Charm
Thoughtseize
Hero’s Downfall
Whip of Erebos

Lands: (23)
Opulent Palace
Polluted Delta
Llanowar Wastes
Forest
Temple of Malady
Yavimaya Coast
Swamp
Island
Temple of Mystery
Windswept Heath

Sideboard: (15)
Thoughtseize
Bile Blight
Doomwake Giant
Drown in Sorrow
Sultai Charm
Pharika, God of Affliction
Silence the Believer
Dead Drop
Negate
Treasure Cruise
Duress
Disdainful Stroke
Ultimate Price
Hero’s Downfall

Well, turns out that after I 2-1’d my draft pod, I was paired against Explosive Vegetation/Ugin ramp deck, GW Devotion, UB Control and GW Aggro with Den Protector and Raptor engine. These all felt like horrible matchups except maybe GW Devotion which after sideboard wasn’t that bad with my Doomwake Giants.

UB Control has always been a great deck against anything midrange so I wasnt surprised to get wrecked there.

The Ugin ramp deck, was basically Abzan, but he had Frontier Siege, Explosive Vegetation, at least 3 Ugin and Haven of the Spirit Dragon to bring it back. Ugin alone wrecks Whip decks, imagine when they always have it and you can’t really kill it. Somehow I was winning game 3, but it took forever to grind those games and time was called, we drew the turn before I could kill him.

The GW deck was piloted by Pat Cox, it didnt have anything in particular against my deck, but pressure and card advantage through Protector and Raptor was enough to beat my whip engine apparently.

An unfortunate quit exit for a Standard Pro Tour in which I registered a deck I thought was actually good. I cant say the deck was bad, I was able to put up a good fight to all my opponents, but I could’ve had better matchups – thats for sure. Going forward I dont think Sidisi is very well positioned, Esper Dragons is the best deck and you have a hard time winning a game against them.

Speaking of which … After playing very few games against the field we expected at GP Krakow, I was not only sold on Esper Dragons because it perfectly fits my playstyle in Standard, but also because its the best deck. The last deck I played before Dragons of Tarkir was UB control and this deck is a strict upgrade that also has the random ”turn 5 win” in Dragonlord Ojutai. It’s incredibly hard to attack the UB aspect of the deck since if you want to jam infinite Duress, Nissa, Planeswalkers and what not, well you might just lose to turn 5 Ojutai.

In testing for the Pro Tour, I had built/tested a list of that deck and I have to say I feel incredibly bad that I was so close from ChannelFireball’s list. Basically what I did was take Shaheen Soorani’s idea of UB splash Ojutai, except he had Utter End and Narset. My initial list simply cut Narset because its a piece of ****. It makes the mana better because you become UB splash 5 white cards. This is where I was ”so close”, I kept the 2 Utter End thinking I needed answers to a few permanents that we cant deal with now without Perilous Vault, but who cares? The deck has 4 ACTUAL COUNTERSPELL!
Anyways, I abandoned it because my mana was bad and I somehow forgot Foul-Tongue Invocation existed.

I did not look back and registered this beast at the Grand Prix.

Esper Dragons – Pascal Maynard

Lands: (27)
Temple of Enlightenment
Temple of Deceit
Polluted Delta
Dismal Backwater
Island
Caves of Koilos
Swamp
Haven of the Spirit Dragon
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Flooded Strand

Creatures: (5)
Dragonlord Ojutai
Silumgar, the Drifting Death

Spells: (28)
Silumgar’s Scorn
Dig Through Time
Anticipate
Hero’s Downfall
Crux of Fate
Foul-Tongue Invocation
Ultimate Price
Bile Blight
Dissolve
Thoughtseize
Disdainful Stroke
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Sideboard: (15)
Foul-Tongue Invocation
Ultimate Price
Bile Blight
Thoughtseize
Risen Executioner
Dragonlord’s Prerogative
Drown in Sorrow
Dragonlord Silumgar

The deck swept the tournament by putting 6 in the Top 8 and myself at 12-3. Which was enough to lock-up my Gold Pro Status (yay!)

Now what? Well, the deck is beatable. Den Protector + Deathmist Raptor is a great engine to beat it, but you have to build a good deck with those. Also, you have to make sure you dont lose to Ojutai. How? Play some Edicts or Counterspells, dont try to play cards like Valorous Stance or Hero’s Downfall. If they untap with Ojutai, you are dead. You are not in a winning position if you are forced to keep 2 or more mana up during their turn, because if they want to attack, it is most likely because they have a counterspell for your removal and then you’ll instantly lose too much tempo.

For those who are Esper Dragons addicts, dont worry, people will adapt, but so can you! The cards in the deck are so versatile and powerful, I’m sure the deck will maintain the title of the best deck in standard for a while. If people start playing Protector/Raptor, you can start playing Silence the Believers, Perilous Vault and so on. You have tools to adapt also.

I hope you enjoyed this double tournament report, see you in a tournament soon!