By Mitch Gross
3 Snapcaster Mage
4 Yeva, Nature's Herald
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
4 Wolfier Avenger
4 Searing Spear
4 Mizzium Mortars
3 Think Twice
3 Izzet Charm
4 Breeding Pool
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Stomping Ground
4 Steam Vents
1 Kessig Wolf Run
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Izzet Staticaster
2 Ground Seal
1 Curse of Echoes
I don't usually enjoy playing popular decks of a meta game. Over the last few months I have played quite a few Standard decks, enjoying myself the most with a UG Delver list that won a PTQ in Arizona. After this RUG beauty took a top spot in SCG Milwaukee I decided to take it down to one of the local win a box events. The deck felt amazing, it was tempo but also had late game inevitability vs many decks of the meta game. The eight main deck burn spells and hate out of the sideboard ensure a positive % match up against most aggro and blitz decks in the format. I instantly fell in love with RUG Flash and decided to make the long trip up with a couple friends to last weekend's SCG Seattle.
Round 1: Andre Woods G/U Evolve
Andre was playing a green based elf deck with blue for Simic Guildmage and I don't know what else. Game one I started off slow stuck on three land with multiple Huntermasters in hand. He got out multiple Arbor elves and began ramping into more elves with an active Simic Guildmage. I was able to flash in multiple Avenger's to stem the tide. I flashed in a Yeva with Searing Spear backup and while the blocks looked horrible for me, I was able to spear his Elvish Archdruid before damage and basically wipe his board. He scooped when I flashed in a Huntmaster on his endstep. Game two his turn one Arbor Elf met my turn one pillar, I flashed in an avenger on turn three killing his strangleroot geist, turn four I tapped out for a Huntmaster and rode the superior board position to victory.
Round 2: Dan Froelich G/W Blink
Dan led off with a mull to six on the draw and I kept my seven. I sat back while he ramped and waited for something relevant to counter. Nothing ever came so I main phased a Huntmaster on turn five. He untapped and slammed a Thragtusk. Next turn he blinked his Thragtusk with a cavern on angel, untapped and I countered his next Thragtusk. I passed the turn with syncopate backup and flipped my Huntmaster dealing two to the angel. He entered combat with the team and I attempted to spear the angel, in response he cloudshifted the angel blinking his Thragtusk. Things were looking pretty poor for the RUG team but I managed to top deck a Mizzium Mortars, which I overloaded to kill most of his board. He found a Fiend Hunter and exiled my Huntmaster on his turn. He played another Thragtusk but I was able to eventually kill the Fiend during combat and flash in an avenger. After stabilizing it was a simple beat down with the Avenger to seal game one. Game two I kept a two land hand on the draw with multiple spears, a Syncopate, and a mortars. He ramped into an acidic slime while I was stuck on two land. He then Cloudshifted the slime, and then revealed a resto angel. I scooped with zero land in play. Game three I kept a solid hand and managed to control the early part of the game with an Avenger and an active Huntmaster. He tapped out for an Acidic Slime and blew up one of my only two blue sources. He was able to blink the slime multiple times to starve me of land and I had to concede with two lands in play.
Round 3: Jesse Roberts Evolve Aggro
Jesse is a really solid player out of Eugene and I knew that I had my work cut out for me. He was playing the bant aggro list that took a top 16 spot by one of his testing partners, Cy Cook. Game one he was on the play, shocked himself and played an Experiment One. I led off with a tapped land and he played a turn two Strangleroot Geist and bashed in for four. The next turn he had a Rapid Hybridization for his Geist and I couldn't deal with the nine power on board with his counterspell backup. Game two I was able to dissipate his turn three Geist of Saint Traft and had an overloaded Mizzium Mortars for his four creatures on turn six. Shortly after I had him dead on board with my wolf run on an avenger but his last card in hand was a Selesnya Charm. I wasn't sure which charm he was playing and looking back it was a mistake but I was able to find another avenger a few turns later and take game two. Game three he led off with Cloudfin Raptors on turn one and two while I sat back and countered his bigger creatures. He was able to evolve the raptors twice and started bashing in for four every turn. I was on six land with two mortars in hand but decided to play it safe and just kill one of them on two consecutive turns with dissipate backup. This proved to be the correct call and I was able to take the game with an end step Avenger.
Round 4: Andrew Graham BW Zombies
I led off on the play as he played two isolated chapels tapped and then started with a third turn Lingering Souls. The souls got syncopated, as did his second one, and he scooped when I dissipated his Geralf's Messenger on turn five. Game two he got me down to twelve with an unanswered first turn Gravecrawler. But I was able to overload a mortars to sweep his board and resolve two Huntmasters for the unexciting, gg.
Round 5: Jeremy Garfinkel BR Control
He started off the round by completely smashing me into the ground during game one. He ended the game on twenty-seven life, five cards in hand, and finished me by beating me to death with Crypt Ghasts. Game two I boarded in both of my Counterflux's and Pillar of Flame to deal with his ghasts. The reasoning behind Counterflux was that he had no form of card advantage other than Sign in Blood and I figured I could just counter his whole hand and I would be fine. This proved to be the perfect change during games two and three as I was able to stick an avenger early game and ride it to victory behind my grip of countermagic. My life total never dropped below twenty in either game and I was mostly satisfied with the start to my tournament.
Round 6: Cameron Herzog Evolve Aggro
I saw Cameron hanging out with some of the other guys that were playing the evolve aggro list earlier in the day so I assumed he was also on that deck. He won the dice roll and I kept a hand that was very well suited for the aggro matchup. He led off with an Experiment One and a turn two Strangleroot Geist and the experiment died to a spear. He was able to stop drawing land at three and drew gas for the rest of the game. I eventually ran out of steam and died to a top deck rancor. Game two he led off with a Cloudfin Raptor and nothing on turn two. He took two damage from his Hallowed Fountain on turn three and tapped out for a Geist of Saint Traft, which was met with a Dissipate. The next turn I was able to Syncopate his second Geist of Saint Traft but the following turn he played his third one and was able to protect it for the rest of the game with Unsummons and Spell Ruptures. Disappointing, but he played a good series, probably the best player I played all day.
Round 7: Evan Rice The Aristocrats
I sat down for game one and I could tell that Evan knew how to play his opponents. He continually made small talk throughout the round that he thought benefited to himself. His table talk reminded me of a young Cedric Phillips, he didn't always make the correct play but his feel for the game was incredible. He resolved a few early lingering souls and back-to-back Falkenrath Aristocrat's to protect himself from my two mortars in hand. His turn six Thundermaw Hellkite made for a short game. Game two I boarded in Pillar of Flame, Izzet Staticaster, and my Jace. He finally realized that his subtle trash talk wasn't getting to me and rest of the round he managed to control himself. He led off with early creatures that met my counterspells and slammed a turn five Assemble the Legion. My turn six I attacked with two avengers bringing his life total down to twelve. He added a token and got another spell countered. The following turn I brought him down to nine and this is where the game got interesting. He untapped and drew an unanswered Falkenrath Aristocrat and started bashing with his board continuing to fill with tokens. I was stuck in two red sources with a searing spear and mortars in hand with a board of two Avengers and a Snapcaster Mage with him at seven. I held on for as long as I could waiting to draw the red source. On the last possible turn I shot a Searing Spear at his face at the end of his turn and untapped. I windmill slammed the Steam Vents off the top and blew up his entire board with just the Aristocrat left. With him at four I was able to squeak in five points of damage and on to game three. Sadly, game three was very uneventful as I got stuck on three land and he drew two Thundermaw Hellkites.
Round 8: Trevor Key R/G Aggro
I won the dice roll and flashed in an avenger against his board full of 2/2s when he attacked for six on turn three. I managed to find another avenger off the top and took out his other 2/2s the following combat. I played back-to-back Huntermasters and he couldn't punch through my superior board state. Game two he led off with the standard double Burning Tree Emissary into Flinthoof Boar and started hitting me hard. I was eventually able to stop the bleeding at three life and I was certain a game three was in my future. He played a Stromkirk Noble and I stopped him letting him know that I was thinking if that would resolve. I let it resolve with three cards in hand, all land. I had a flashback Think Twice at the end of his turn and I managed to draw gas, but still no counterspell. I eventually shifted the board in my favor with him holding one card in hand. I assumed it was a Searing Spear and I spent every ounce of my energy into letting him know that I had an answer. Eventually I did draw the counterspell and the game ended. As we scooped up our cards he asked if I had the Dissipate the whole time, I told him, “most likely” and shook his hand good game.
Round 9: Daniel Whelan GWB Ramp
Daniel was a nice guy and I remembered watching him play a game earlier in the day. I led off with a fast start flashing in a creature almost every turn blocking his mana elves and making correct trades. He was soon left with zero cards in hand an Acidic Slime on the board, which I happily traded for my Huntmaster and flashed in a second one the next turn. I countered his Thragtusk off the top and he conceded. Game two I drew my opening cards...no land. I mulled to six, again no land. Mulled to five and kept a one land hand on the draw with 2 spears, a dissipate, and a mortars. I'm not sure if this is the correct call as he managed to get two early acidic slimes and I had to concede with zero lands in play. Game three was more of the same, he blinked his slimes killing the land colors I was short on, then resolved back to back Thragtusks as I extended the hand in defeat.
Round 10: Daniel Whelan B/R Zombies
Daniel was playing a list with four Falkenrath Aristocrats, Four Thundermaw Hellkite, some number of Hellrider, and the zombie package. Reminded me of the list that was very popular a few months ago in standard that seemed to manage to win everything. At this point I was so tired and hungry that I didn't take many notes but I do remember that I won the dice roll and kept a hand with four land, two Syncopate, and a Dissipate. I drew a Snapcaster Mage on turn two and managed to keep him off a board for a very long time. Surprisingly, he still managed to get me down to eight showing that this deck is still a very powerful choice but I feel Aristocrat's are better suited. Game two I decided to take a chance and tap out for a turn four Huntmaster. He didn't have the aristocrat or hellkite and I was able to flip the Huntmaster three times back and forth throughout the game and still ended the game at only nine life.
Lessons Learned and Words of Wisdom:
1. Considering I have Crohn's Disease I manage to come to big tournaments at least moderately prepared. I had enough food, but the rounds were happening so fast I at times forgot to eat. Be sure after every round to get a little to drink and have easy to eat foods like bananas, protein bars, or other kinds of good carbohydrate/quality sugar foods. Carbs are what makes yourbrain make all those great plays throughout the day, so be sure to fuel up!
2. FUN. No excuses, I don't care if you lost to your best match up. Sure, big tournaments are competitive, but why spend twelve hours in a room full of 600 fellow nerds if you're not enjoying yourself.
1. Get enough sleep the night before! I had the bright idea of going to FNM the Friday night, then stopping by a party later in the night, and then had to leave for Seattle at 4:00 that morning. While I feel I played a pretty good tournament despite only finishing 6-4, I know that more sleep the night before would have made for a substantially better experience.
2. Be nice to your opponents! I should have put this point at number one. No one enjoys sitting across from a grumpy guy complaining they haven't drawn a land in six turns. I firmly believe in karma so wishing my opponent good luck at the start of the round is standard.
3. Niacin does really help. Jon Finkel firmly believes in niacin at events and I do as well. While niacin is supplemented in energy drinks such as Redbull and many others, I feel the best way to keep niacin levels elevated during a tournament is to take a supplement. A bottle of niacin capsules at a local GNC is less than ten dollars, and I feel it has helped raise my in game awareness exponentially.
SCG Seattle was overall a great experience. I got to drive up with a couple good friends, Tim Mueller and Justice Gibson, their support throughout the day was extremely helpful. Tim had a great showing, taking cashing 100 dollars at 8-2 with RG aggro. Justice finished at 6-4 with Jund Midrange and I finished also at 6-4 piloting RUG Flash. If you have any questions about match ups or sideboarding feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org you can also add me on Magic the Gathering Online account name: Based. Thanks, until next time.