MTG Reporter – Winning an SCG IQ on Zero Hours of Sleep [Taylor Spain]
Of course I didn’t want to run on no sleep, but oh well. First off, welcome to the journey I went on. Although it was a small SCG IQ with only 18 people, it still had very good players in the room.
After watching Michael Majors destroy the SCG Indy Open with GW Megamorph, I decided that GW was the deck I would play. I’ve always been a sucker for resilient midrangey aggressive strategies such as Mono Blue Devotion from Return to Ravnica/Theros block and last season with Abzan Aggro. The deck seemed very strong and could go long with decks like Abzan Control and Esper Dragons. It did have a few holes in a sense that the sideboard wasn’t tuned to beat Atarka Red. Here’s the list I finished on.
GW Megamorph - Taylor Spain
I removed the Blighted Steppe and 25th land. I felt like having Nissa was enough to not play 25 lands. I felt like Silkwrap would be a very good removal spell moving forward. Against the mirror even though both of you have access to Dromoka's Command if you have the time you can sandbag it until they play a Hangarback Walker. Other than that, the mainboard is exactly the same as Michael Majors’s list.
The sideboard changed more than the mainboard with the succession to Atarka Red and Jeskai Black looking very strong. Surge of Righteousness over performed for me being able to kill Thunderbreak Regent and Kolaghan, the Storm’s Fury. Mastery of the Unseen is a very strong card against Control and Jeskai Black and even though I only played against Esper Control once the entire tournament I felt like if it resolved it put me ahead.
I built the deck at 2 a.m. And since I couldn’t sleep, I tested with a friend at 6 a.m. He was playing Abzan Aggro and even though I don’t think the deck will be super popular moving forward it was good to test against and figure out how the deck plays. This deck can be the control deck sometimes which is awesome to say when you are playing 1-drop creature deck. We tested for a couple hours and then decided to play Star Wars Battlefront beta. I highly recommend playing the game if you love Star Wars. Around 10 a.m. I went to eat breakfast with my girlfriend and we went for a walk at a park. The walking helped me out a ton by waking my muscles and letting me turn my brain off for an hour.
Round 1 - GW Megamorph
Once again, I got very limited testing only against one deck so I have no idea how to play any matchup or sideboard against anything but I have a knack for picking up a deck the day of and playing it fairly well. My opponent was one that I faced in the top 4 of a Modern PPTQ so we chit chatted about nonsense until the round began. Again the tournament was small but I felt the majority of the room was competent in the ways of Magic. Alright let’s actually get into it.
I kept a good 2-land hand that had Nissa, Gideon, Wingmate Roc, Command, and Silkwrap. I was on the play and kind of needed to hit a land before turn 3 to make sure I could function. I did and played Nissa on 3, Gideon on 4, and Roc on 5. He couldn’t handle the turn 5 Roc and conceded a few turns later.
The game became very grindy very quickly with him just resolving a Wingmate. I was quickly on the backfoot, and I knew flipping Nissa and making a 4/4 wouldn’t be good enough. I would have to hit something good off the +1 of Nissa. Tragic Arrogance was exactly the card and it was on the top of the deck. I felt that it was going to be a good day. I got in some damage with the creatures that would have been sacrificed. I resolved the Tragic and a couple turns later I was in the driver’s seat, resolving two Rocs in a row. A shake of the hand later and I felt good. I went to the bathroom and splashed hot water on my face to wake me up.
Round 2 - GW Megamorph
Yet another mirror. I knew the deck was good but man out of 18 about 5 people were on it. I felt more confident having a match under my belt. I was very tired so I don’t exactly remember how I won the first game but I remember both games being very tight. I played against a guy who I previously met at the shop and I remember at FNM he was talking about how he had Dragonlord Dromoka as a mirror breaker. Knowing that, I kept in all the Stances and took out all the Wardens.
Again, the decks typically slow down a bit postboard so it went to the grindhouse again. I battled through 2 Whisperwoods and he resolved a Tragic Arrogance, but I followed it up quickly with a Whisperwood of my own. Then a Roc the turn after. He dealt with it, but a topdecked Den Protector put me in the win column again. Wingmate Roc is the best card in the mirror match at least creature-wise.
With the rather small turnout and it being a cut to Top 8, I knew if I won the next round I could just double draw in. Again I repeat the process/ritual of splashing scalding hot water on my face. I was still feeling good but had a little less energy than the round before. I knew an energy drink would do perfectly.
Round 3 - RBu Aggro
The deck looked very interesting with the early elements of a Mono Red deck but had the late game dragon theme with Thunderbreak and Kolaghan.
I curved out with Warden which he answered with a Wild Slash, a Hangarback which he answered with another Wild Slash, and then I resolved a Deathmist Raptor on turn 3. A couple turns later I was somehow behind with him resolving a Thunderbreak on turn 4 and dashing a Kolaghan turn 5 hitting me for 12. I could deal with the Kolaghan but couldn’t beat the Thunderbreak with me being at 3 life. I did have a sweet play if he didn’t have a burn spell since I could’ve survived a turn. I had a Raptor in play and he just had a Thunderbreak and a Monastery Swiftspear with a bunch of lands. I had Hangarback Walker and Dromoka's Command in my hand. My play was cast Hangarback for 1 and hold up Command to fog a burn spell and fight my Walker with his Swiftspear to kill my Hangarback and make a Thopter to block the Thunderbreak and swing for the win next turn.
I honestly didn’t have a great idea of what he was playing but felt that the Red Aggro sideboard package would be great here. I didn’t want to bring in the extra Valorous Stances since I didn’t exactly how many Dragons he was playing, but seeing Draconic Roar I thought he had about 6 dragons. Gideon and Nissa seemed very lackluster in the face of fliers. Also, Wild Slash made Nissa very unappealing as trading a 3-mana creature with a 1-mana burn spell did not feel good.
My opening hand had Silkwrap, Surge, Hangarback Walker, and four lands. The game got grindy and drawing 2 Clerics plus another Surge kept my life total around 20 for the majority of the game until I resolved a raided Roc which he couldn’t deal with. Going into game 3, I felt like I sided correctly and didn’t see anything else to bring in. He showed me a Sunken Hollow in game 2. I felt it was probably Treasure Cruise that he was splashing for.
My opening hand was Surge, Surge, Warden, Command, 3 lands. Again, the game was much of the same with me Surging a Kolaghan and resolving a Roc the next turn. He had Thunderbreak but a Dromoka's Command to make my Roc a 4/5 was enough to put me into top 8.
Round 4 - Esper Dragons
We could have easily drawn into top 8 but I felt like playing for top seed was correct since we were the only undefeated players left. I didn’t know how to feel about the matchup. On one hand, I had all the recursion and late game that he did. But on the other hand, he could just resolve a quick Dragonlord Ojutai and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with him.
I kept a very resilient hand which included 2 Deathmist Raptor, a Den Protector, and a Gideon. I casted Deathmist face down on turns 3 and 4, but both were quickly countered. So when I put the Den Protector face down a few turns later he knew the trap that had befallen him. I flipped it up getting back the Gideon he just attacked with Dragonlord with and hit him for 9. He cast Dragonlord Silumgar stealing my 3/2 Den Protector and didn’t attack with Dragonlord Ojutai and passed. I topdecked a Valorous Stance to kill Silumgar and attacked with my Raptors. He blocked one, but I used a Dromoka's Command to pump the unblocked one for lethal. On to game 2.
I’ll admit, I topdecked like a champ all day long which rarely happens to me and usually happens against me. Anyways, sideboarding was fairly easy.
My opening hand had 1 land, 2 Hangarback Walker, Evolutionary Leap, Mastery of the Unseen, Den Protector, and Silkwrap. Being a little braindead, I thought it was an easy keep. I didn’t draw any lands and we were on to game 3.
I’d like to note that was the only game where lands didn’t flow to me. I still stand by not having the 25th land.
My hand was 2 Hangarback Walkers, Gideon, and 4 lands. I ran out the Hangarbacks and leveled them up until my opponent wrathed them away. I quickly untapped and made an emblem with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar to attack my opponent for 12. He didn’t have another wrath and thus, I was top seed going into top 8. Being on the play isn’t necessary for this deck but felt very strong.
Round 5 - Draw against Atarka Red
I felt very good since I hadn’t top 8ed an SCG IQ in about a year and winning the IQ was only way I would be able to go to the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas.
Everyone I played top 8ed. And before the top 8 started, I did my ritual and went to the restroom to splash HOT HOT HOT water on my face to wake up and feel alive. Although the water burned a bit, it did great wonders for my pores.
Quarterfinals - Abzan Splashing Red
I didn’t know this person nor did I know what he was playing.
He went turn 2 Rattleclaw Mystic into turn 3 Rhino. I knew I was in some sort of trouble due to my hand not coming together. The best I had was a Gideon which he swiftly dealt with by using two Abzan Charms on my Deathmist Raptors and playing a 6/6 Woodland Wanderer. I had a Warden of the First Tree on level 2 with six lands in play. I could’ve played Nissa and flipped her, but I felt like that wasn’t strong enough to beat his board which now had another Rhino. He only had one card in hand so I made my Warden an 8/8 with lifelink and trample with the intention of doing it again next turn. His attack and a third Rhino put me all the way to one and him to a reasonable amount. He only had one mana open so I leveled my Warden again to a 13/13. He had to chumpblock with the Wanderer and the Rhino which put me up to 14 and him to 6. He knocked on the top of his deck for removal. But it wasn’t there and we were on to game 2.
I honestly didn’t know how to play against this deck. I felt like it was just trying to be a midrangey aggressive deck like mine but with a less consistent manabase.
He had turn 2 Rattleclaw into turn 3 Woodland Wanderer but couldn’t hit black or white mana till the very end and it was too late.
The other 3 GW Megamorph decks lost and I was the only one left. I liked the mirror match but could tell if I stumbled a bit I could easily get ran over.
Semifinals - RBu Aggro
I mulliganed to 5 with 2 Dromoka's Command, 1 Valorous Stance, and 2 lands in hand. I drew a land every drawstep for the rest of the game and we were swiftly onto game 2. I sided the same as I did in our previous match and felt confident I could win still.
I had a quick start and Surged both his guys and started swinging for a bunch. He couldn’t keep up and we were on to game 3.
This was a truly grindy affair. I stayed around 15 life for about 6 turns. I had a Hangarback on 2 and was getting in there until I drew a Roc. He then Exquisited my Roc and Self-Inflicted Wounded me. I draw another Roc followed by the same plays from my opponent. A couple turns later, I drew my 3rd Wingmate Roc (I knew I was running hot) and he couldn’t deal with it. A handshake occurred and it was on to the finals.
This was my second SCG IQ finals along with a bevy of top 4s so I knew I had to make this one count. I wish I could tell you about a heated battle between me and the Atarka Red menace. But before we started, I asked my opponent if he would be able to go to the Invitational if he won. He said he wouldn’t since he has a wife and child. I asked if we could share the prize ($250 and a ton of packs). He agreed. It was sort of a hollow victory, but I still felt like I deserved it.
Winning my first IQ and cementing my trip to Vegas felt pretty good. I’d like to thank all the people who lent me cards. And I’d like to thank the shop I love, Will Power Gaming, for my job and being a great host. I’d also like to thank my opponents who were very nice and respectful. It was a great day of Magic and one that I’ll always remember.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article.
Good luck and good games,