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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Chainsaw Massacre 4.11 - Green-Red Midrange

Chainsaw Massacre 4.10

This event was this year's Christmas Special event. 15 players came to fight for the grand prize - a modern-framed Power Nine donated by Lowman02, the host of the event. Lowman contacted me prior the event and told me about it so I joined. We played 4 rounds of Swiss and top2. I brought 4c Blood to the event and after an unexpected pairings and thus unexpected outcome of the last round I managed to get in the finals. Me and Socanelas, both on 4c Blood, decided to split the Power Nine and then we fought for the trophy. The winner would become the Xmas Special Champion. Last year I managed to claim the trophy with UWb combo-control but this time it was Socanelas. I recorded the event without the finals because I got a bit surprised by actually ending up in the finals and forgot to record it. Lowman02 on the other hand recorded just the finals so if you like you can watch the whole event from my perspective on my Youtube Channel or Twitch.

During the event more players joined our Discord channel and we talked about 100CS in general. We talked about 4c Blood that seems to dominate still, and all the White Weenie and Red Deck Wins in the metagame. The latter two decks are rather prevalent now and Lowman02 suggested that the metagame needs a little bit of a shake up. He knew he wouldn't be able to attend the following event, so he suggested that I take it down with RG fatties with which Lowman02 pretty much crushed me in few games later. Since recently I wrote about playing 100CS on budget featuring RG Midrange I decided to actually play some kind of RG aggro-midrange version. In order to beat the White Weenie and RDW players I needed to go over the top - play bigger stuff - but I didn't feel like playing more of a ramp deck so I ended up with just 'relatively big' stuff (mostly five drops that can fly). I spent part of the day trading and this deck was born. Note that this is not a fine tuned deck, it's pretty much what my collection provided plus cards I was willing to buy (that is the reason for example why I didn't buy Inferno Titan even though the card is just a beating for all the three decks I mentioned earlier). It looked good enough to prey on the current metagame though.

This deck runs all the mana dorks (I own) producing colored mana in order to be able to deploy its threats a turn earlier. I was pondering about including Wall of Roots and Sylvan Caryatid but decided against it, since this deck wants to be more aggressive rather than true midrange or ramp (which would welcome cards like Nature's Lore or Three Visits rather than mana dorks). If mana dorks are not available on turn one, the deck can play two drops that are good at attacking like Flinthoof Boar or Kalonian Tusker. Among 3-4 drops I tried to find some kind of balance between aggressive creatures (Boon Satyr, Surrak, the Hunt Caller), utility creatures (Deathgorge Scavenger, Yasova Dragonclaw, Flametongue Kavu) and some value cards (Arlinn Kord, Huntmaster of the Fells, Garruk Wildspeaker). The most important in the deck are the 5 drops. I included a trio of Dragons - Thundermaw Hellkite, Stormbreath Dragon, Glorybringer - that are the cards that should be able to help with stalled boards. These Dragons are also the best planeswalker killers. Zealous Conscripts is a nice fun card that can often wreck the board and deal additional damage out of nowhere. Thragtusk is simply a value card that I did not plan to play at all (I wanted to play Garruk, Primal Hunter) but I couldn't say no to a big lifegain and 3/3 beast. Titania, Protector of Argoth is a good creature when there are fetchlands around. This is fine with just one fetchland but otherwise can be a miss in this deck - a 5/3 for 5 mana. I was willing to give it a try though - the card always overperformed for me. Primeval Titan is pretty much the best green card in terms of card advantage. It finds at least 2 cards when it comes to play and leaves behind a 6/6 Trample body. If that gets to attack, it is usually 'good game'. Woodland Bellower is another big body that brings another creature in play (unfortunately not Nissa, Vastwood Seer).

The deck simply wants to win the game as soon and possible. It has some tricks available in the form of several burn spells and also pump spells (including my favorite Ghor-Clan Rampager). It can deal with some creatures or steal them so the deck does not necessarily need to just go through.

Chainsaw Massacre 4.11

I didn't expect high attendance due to Christmas time but 10 players showed up which was nice.

The metagame breakdown was as follows:

White Weenie: 4
Red Deck Wins: 3
RG Midrange: 1
4c Blood: 1
UR Painter: 1

Round 1 - 4c Blood
In the first round I faced an opponent on 4c Blood. I suspected that but I couldn't be sure about it. They played Verdant Catacombs, fetching a Forest, and Noble Hierarch. Next turn they followed up with Razorverge Thicket and Courser of Kruphix allowing me to see their next draw which was actually relevant in this game. I kept a hand with Boggart Ram-Gang, Badlands, Garruk Wildspeaker, Rootbound Crag, Arbor Elf, Cinder Glade, Oath of Nissa. This hand was fine with the exception that I didn't have an untapped green source on turn one to be able to play my mana dork. My plan was to play Cinder Glade tapped and next turn play both Arbor Elf and Oath of Nissa. This would allow me to play Garruk the following turn. The draw for the turn was Ramunap Ruins which was not a green source so I played Cinder Glade tapped. Next turn I played Oath of Nissa and wondered which card I want more - either Polukranos, World Eater which could in theory kill something or Tireless Tracker that could certainly draw me some cards. I decided to choose Polukranos because I knew that I'd need to play a big creature in order to deal with Knight of the Reliquary that was on top of my opponent's library and I wouldn't have the time to play Tireless Tracker since I'd be forced to play Garruk. On turn 3, I played Polukranos hoping that it would stop my opponent's attacks. Things started to look bleak for me because on top of my opponent's library there was Maelstrom Pulse. At that time I didn't know that it would be followed by even more removal spells. I played Garruk Wildspeaker and Flinthoof Boar on turn 4. My opponent destroyed my only source of green on his turn. Later, they attacked with Knight of the Reliquary that I double blocked with my Boar and Polukranos losing my Polukranos in the process. The next card on top of my opponent's library was Swords to Plowshares. I needed a steady stream of creatures and I also needed to find a way how to get rid of Scavenging Ooze that was becoming bigger and bigger. I was lucky because I drew a creature and a good one too. It had Deathtouch which meant it could trade with Scavenging Ooze. I played the creature - Heir of the Wilds - and Boggart Ram-Gang hoping that I would be able to block at least with something next turn. My opponent drew the Sword to Plowshares and got rid of my Heir of the Wilds. For some reason though they decided to attack with their Scavenging Ooze that couldn't become big enough not to die in combat. I happily double blocked it. Since this moment it seemed that under certain circumstances I could possibly win this game so I decided to try and win it.

I top decked Kessing Wolf Run which helped me win the game faster.

In order to win the game though I still needed to be drawing creatures and I also needed my Garruk to stay in play. I blanked next turn, but Garruk didn't die so I created a Beast token. My opponent drew Go for the Throat but the following card was finally a blank or at least I thought so till I realized that there is still Courser of Kruphix in play reminding me of its filtering power. They attacked. Since they had instant speed removal that would wreck my triple block I decided to just chump block keeping Garruk with as many counters as possible (I wasn't sure if that was a good idea. I could have also let the attack through). Next turn I drew Yasova Dragonclaw (a walking lightning rod as it seems). My opponent finally stopped attacking and destroyed Yasova. I kept creating 3/3 Beast tokens and hoped to draw something that could fly so I could finally attack. Then I saw Elspeth, Knight-Errant on top of my opponent's library and I suddenly felt bad. It was a relief when I top decked Burst Lightning though. The question was what to do with it. I could deal with Elspeth (with the help of Ramunap Ruins) with it or one of the creatures. The creature I really needed to get rid of was Courser of Kruphix. If I'd deal with that I could attack with all my tokens and get rid of Elspeth that way. This would work out only if my opponent would give a creature +3/+3 and Flying though. So I waited for my opponent to decide what to do with their planeswalker. They did exactly what I needed. A flying Noble Hierarch hit me and I dealt with Courser of Kruphix afterwards. My next top deck was a good one too - Arlinn Kord. I killed Elspeth with my Beast tokens, then played my planeswalker and created yet another token - this time a 2/2 Wolf. This way I could in theory block and protect Arlinn. My opponent had 3 potential attackers and I needed at least two blockers. I knew my opponent would draw Terminate though making it bad for me. I'd probably just lose Arlinn. Fortunately for me, my opponent attacked only with their Hissing Quagmire and not with all of their creatures which meant I could just chump block with my token and keep Arlinn in play. I used her removal ability on a 'second half' of Kitchen Finks and swung with several of my Beasts. There was nothing my opponent could possibly do to win this game at this point. They continued to play though. I was protecting Arlinn, using her 2/2 Wolf ability and her removal ability to win the game later.

In game 2 I kept a hand with Boggart Ram-Gang, Hashep Oasis, Stormbreath Dragon, Thrun, the Last Troll, Heir of the Wilds, Smuggler's Copter and Treetop Village. This hand was potentially good but it could also go pretty bad if I wouldn't draw a land or wouldn't be able to crew my Smuggler's Copter (or it would die). My opponent played a mana dork on turn 1, Tidehollow Sculler (taking my Smuggler's Copter) and another mana dork on turn 2. I drew Grove of the Burnwillows and Destructive Revelry which was good but I was already behind and I didn't know if I could possibly turn the game in my favor - likely not. My Heir of the Wilds died to Liliana of the Veil meaning I had another permanent I needed to deal with. I had no choice but to play Boggart Ram-Gang and deal with Liliana before my opponent would play something else. Next turn my opponent played Shriekmaw and I wanted to concede. After a while of trying to figure out how to get out of this mess I decided to continue playing (I didn't have much time on my timer). I played Thrun, the Last Troll hoping to stop the attack of the smaller creatures and get hit by Shriekmaw. Next turn I could get my Copter back and block the Shriekmaw. My opponent ruined my plan though by playing Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. I didn't draw a land that would allow me to play Stormbreath Dragon so I stuck to my original plan with the Copter. Another planeswalker showed up on my opponent's side of the table - Garruk Wildspeaker. My opponent's last card in hand was Terminate (targeting my Copter) so I conceded.

I kept a better hand this time - Taiga, Stormbreath Dragon, Obstinate Baloth, Boon Satyr, Skarrg, the Rage Pits, Flametongue Kavu and Yavimaya Hollow. My opponent curved out - Elvish Mystic, Loxodon Smiter and Huntmaster of the Fells. I managed to trade with Loxodon Smiter thanks to Boon Satyr's Flash ability. Flametongue Kavu dealt with Huntmaster of the Fells. Everything looked fine under one condition - my opponent couldn't start playing a planeswalker after planeswalker. They showed me a lot of removal spells so I expected that my opponent probably runs less planeswalkers (than my version) so I thought that it was more likely that I wouldn't need to face multiple planeswalkers. They played Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. This time though I had the fifth land so I could play Stormbreath Dragon and kill Gideon immediately. My dragon was destroyed by Maelstrom Pulse later but it did its jobs and my opponent didn't land another threat. I played Obstinate Baloth which I hoped would keep my opponent's 2/2s and 1/1s in check. Things started to look fine for me. I cast Bloodbraid Elf hoping to cascade into a creature. I managed that. It was Yasova Dragonclaw. I also had a mana open for regeneration shield from Yavimaya Hollow. I swung with everything, regenerated one of my creatures and let my opponent, that was suddenly down to 8, play. They killed Yasova and passed. It was time for another alpha strike and giving +1/+1 Trample to a blocked creature to get my opponent down to 1. My opponent conceded.

Round 2 - White Weenie
I kept a very nice hand - Forest, Birds of Paradise, Chandra, Torch of Defiance, Boon Satyr, Taiga, Huntmanster of the Fells, Obstinate Baloth. I had no idea what my opponent was on, but they started with Plains and Signal Pest. Signal Pest was followed by Mikaeus, the Lunarch which suggested a more aggressive (go wide) version of White Weenie. I played Boon Satyr on turn 2 and Yasova on turn 3. If I'd drawn a land I'd destroyed Mikaeus with Chandra otherwise. My opponent played Spectral Procession which is something I really didn't like. I had several different lines of play here. I could have destroyed Mikaeus meaning I'd have to face 4 creatures with a +1/+1 counter or I could try to race by stealing Mikaeus and putting a counter on my creatures (I doubted my opponent would sacrifice their Mikaeus, even though I wouldn't certainly mind that). My opponent decided to triple block Yasova, killing it, helping me because I didn't need to deal with the problematic tokens later. They followed with Silverblade Paladin pairing it with Mikaeus. It was time for my Chandra finally. I killed the Paladin and swung with 5/3 Boon Satyr. My opponent could trade two of their cards for the Satyr but decided not to going down to 3 which would allow them to deal with Chandra next turn. They killed Chandra by attacking with Mikaeus and played Mentor of the Meek which would have to trade with my Boon Satyr. They played Mirran Crusader then that seemed as a perfect card against me. It couldn't stop my 1/2 Birds of Paradise and Huntmaster of the Fells from flipping and dealing the remaining 2 damage though.

I kept a fairly ambitious hand in terms of the number of lands - Boggart Ram-Gang, Incinerate, Primeval Titan, Glorybringer, Taiga, Boon Satyr, Raging Ravine, Tireless Tracker. I didn't draw the third land during the first two turns but at least I could burn a creature in the meantime. On my third turn though I drew the land and could play Kitchen Finks. I hoped it would deal with at least one creature. Unfortunately it did not trade with any creature - it got hidden underneath Oblivion Ring. I really needed not to miss my land drops so I could play Glorybringer as soon as possible. I drew Char instead of a land. I produced a 3/3 creature so I could block my opponent's 2/2 and still have something that could block. My opponent played Honor of the Pure though, so my creature had to trade. I played Char on the remaining creature and hoped to draw a fifth land for the Dragon. I drew it! I played Glorybringer and clicked on "... and Exert". My opponent's creature died. They still had 3 cards in their hands and obviously one of them was Kitchen Finks that showed up next in play. I played Smuggler's Copter and wondered which creature wanted to chump Kitchen Finks. I decided that I won't have time for drawing cards with Tireless Tracker so I played that instead of Boon Satyr which I could in theory Bestow. I drew a better card though - Xenagos, the Reveler. I created a token and attacked only with Glorybringer exerting it again. My life total was low and I needed to survive that one turn and then I could win the game. Glorybringer died to (Blessed Alliance) but it killed Kitchen Finks in the process. My opponent played Sword of Light and Shadow which seemed irrelevant. I played Primeval Titan and my opponent scooped.

Round 3 - UR

That's how it looks like when you paint everything blue on Magic Online and then mill your opponent with Grindstone

I knew that my following opponent was on a UR deck. I saw them mill their opponent prior our match. I kept Treetop Village, Colossal Might, Smuggler's Copter, Forest, Flinthoof Boar, Vithian Renegades, Arid Mesa. Next turn I had several possibilities how to proceed because I drew Lotus Cobra. I spent some time pondering about the possibilities being aware that my plan could end up countered. I decided that the biggest threat for my opponent is Lotus Cobra in the end. I played it and got Spell Snare'ed. Next turn I drew Thundermaw Hellkite which I would have been able to play if my Cobra didn't get countered. I had to settle with Flinthoof Boar, it resolved. So I fetched for a Taiga and attacked with it. My opponent played Vedalken Shackles which I was very glad to see this time because one of the creatures in my hand was Vithian Renegades which I didn't want to play and be forced to destroy my own Smuggler's Copter. Being able to destroy Vedalken Shackles, get a 3/2 body in play was perfect for me. I hoped my card wouldn't get Daze'ed. Next turn I played Nissa, Vastwood Seer to find a land so I could play Thundermaw Hellkite later. I attacked with my two creatures. My opponent played Snapcaster Mage obviously wanting to trade with Vithian Renegades. Luckily for me I had Colossal Might in my hand. I played it on the toughness 2 creature and the games was pretty much over - my opponent conceded.

I kept Fyndhorn Elves, Wasteland, Smuggler's Copter, Cinder Glade, Vexing Shusher, Shaman of the Great Hunt, Ramunap Ruins. I drew Hashep Oasis so I could play my mana dork on turn 1 losing one life. Next turn I played Vexing Shusher and hoped it would resolve and survive. I had no idea how to use it though so learn the hard way. I let my opponent counter my Smuggler's Copter. I drew bunch of lands and one of them was Treetop Village so everything was good for me (since my opponent obviously didn't have any burn spell). My opponent wasn't playing any cantrips or burn spells and they were low on cards. I decided to play Shaman of the Great Hunt and swing with everything. My opponent played Vendilion Clique targeting themselves and blocking my Shaman. They had one card in their hand and I doubted it could deal with my 2 creatures, Treetop Village or Glorybringer. I attacked with everything. Nothing happened. Next turn my opponent played Venser, Shaper Savant during my attack, bounced my Dragon and traded with my Elves. Next turn they conceded.

When the event was over I knew that my deck should have been able to consistently cast 5 and 6 drops to stop White Weenie, Red Deck Wins and 4c Blood with ease. A more of a rampy deck would have been better suited for this metagame. I knew though that this more aggressive deck was already something I do not enjoy playing and piloting a ramp deck usually feels even worse. That is why you won't usually see me pilot similar decks at big events. Chainsaw Massacre though is an ideal event where we can try different kind of decks and learn few new things and all that for free. I have to admit that there were more decisions to take than I expected and it took me quite a while to figure out what I actually wanted to do. It showed me how my deck could be stopped and how I could possibly win the game. It was a short but a nice and informative journey. While the conclusion I came to is one I didn't like (going bigger) I think it was a good lesson for others too. There is a deck that can just smash the field. Will more of these decks emerge? If yes, this can mean that the metagame will need to shift to restore balance. Where will the metagame shift to and how fast will that happen? That depends on you.

Thank you for reading
S'Tsung (stsung on Magic Online, follow me on Twitter @stsungjp)

Decklist

GR Midrange
by stsung, 272tix
Creatures
1 Arbor Elf
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Elvish Mystic
1 Fyndhorn Elves
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Den Protector
1 Duskwatch Recruiter
1 Flinthoof Boar
1 Heir of the Wilds
1 Kalonian Tusker
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Strangleroot Geist
1 Sylvan Advocate
1 Boggart Ram-Gang
1 Boon Satyr
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Deathgorge Scavenger
1 Fanatic of Xenagos
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
1 Prowling Serpopard
1 Rishkar, Peema Renegade
1 Sin Prodder
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Vithian Renegades
1 Yasova Dragonclaw
1 Bloodbraid Elf
1 Flametongue Kavu
1 Ghor-Clan Rampager
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Polukranos, World Eater
1 Shaman of the Great Hunt
1 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Glorybringer
1 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Thragtusk
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
1 Titania, Protector of Argoth
1 Zealous Conscripts
1 Primeval Titan
1 Woodland Bellower
46 cards
Other Spells
1 Domri Rade
1 Arlinn Kord
1 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Xenagos, the Reveler
1 Burst Lightning
1 Chain Lightning
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Vines of Vastwood
1 Arc Trail
1 Colossal Might
1 Incinerate
1 Lightning Strike
1 Char
1 Smuggler's Copter
1 Oath of Nissa
1 Sylvan Library
18 cards
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Badlands
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Cinder Glade
1 Fire-Lit Thicket
9 Forest
1 Grove of the Burnwillows
1 Hashep Oasis
1 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Misty Rainforest
3 Mountain
1 Raging Ravine
1 Ramunap Ruins
1 Rootbound Crag
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
1 Stomping Ground
1 Taiga
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Treetop Village
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Yavimaya Hollow
36 cards