Eldrazi Green and Chinese Nationals Qualifiers Report
Written by dv8r on June 01, 2011
Has it really been 2 years since my last article? I've been in Shanghai, China for the last 2 years doing my masters and have found time for fun limited. However, with stress rising and deadlines imminent I once again decided to come back to playing Magic as a way to relax. With thesis defence finished and passed (and with something strange called a GPA obtained for the first time... these strange Chinese universities...) I could focus on playing a little more competitively. This fire was even stronger given the recent win of close friend Daniel Royde at GP London (allowing him to overtake me in lifetime pro point total... grr :P) and general relative success of long time MtG playing friends back home such as Richard Bland, the Orsini-Jones brothers and Daniel Gardner.
So, it's that time of the year already - Nationals season. Once it became clear that UK Nationals was going to be tricky due to travel commitments and timing (... also GP Shanghai is on the same weekend...) I began to look into other options. Luckily Chinese nationals is both on July 1st (before I come home for the summer, as summer holiday in China is mid-July to early September) and as someone who has lived here for 2 years I am qualified to play as a permanent resident. However, ratings in China are much higher than in England, and I was on the borderline for an invite (memories of not playing NQs 3 years ago and then coming 76th in the 75 invite program due to playing weekly drafts still haunt me). This would mean playing in Nationals Qualifiers...
In the current metagame there are only 2 decks I would consider, Caw-Blade and something that beats Caw-Blade. In my opinion, now that 'Blade has adopted large amounts of hate for Twin and Batterskull, there is only one deck that consistently beats blade and that deck is Eldrazi Green. It has a much superior late game, a better nut draw, and with reduced countermagic in 'Blade lists a much better chance to topdeck out of even the worst scenarios. It is also far more redundant than RUG (which relies heavily on cobra) and much more flexible than Valakut (which must run a large number of do nothing cards like explore and cultivate/harrow). The plan vs. Twin is also better (Titan into Eye, fetching and playing Spellskite/Revoker every turn until the end of the game).
I personally like ramp decks (I am definitely a timmy, and not even really a timmy/spike), and because the mirror often goes long (and the Champions League final finished about 4 hours before the start of the tournament in China) it was not a difficult choice.
First a decklist:
Some quick notes on the decklist:
Absolutely necessary in a deck that wants to be casting 15 mana spells. Also many of your lands do things. Note that drawing a Khalni Garden is often miserable in the early game as it can slow you down a turn, but you REALLY want to tutor 2 sometimes with Titan vs an unfavourable board situation with Titan. Edge is not really very good to draw either (sacrificing lands in a ramp deck...), although you do want defense vs manlands and Balakuts, and sometimes it lets you play as an ld deck with Beast Withins. I would consider playing the 3rd Maze md, and moving 1-2 Edges to the sidebaord, as Maze is particularly useful vs Sword of Feast and Famine, and makes untapped lands less suspicious for Trap/Beast Within.
Fauna Shaman is really a great card to play in this type of deck. It's a tutorable Eye of Ugin, with zenith, and lets you trade dead late game mana acceleration for titans every turn. The only disadvantage is that you must run creature based acceleration. Eldrazi green does this a lot better than RUG or Valakut.
Tumble Magnet is pretty miserable vs Spellskite that many 'Blade lists are running md. Wall does everything you want with Magnet, and pumps Battlements/discards to Shamans.
Zenith is both an accelerator early and a bomb late. I would say that 60-70% of the time it fetches a second Battlement or a turn 2 Treespeaker. If you are holding them until later, consider not doing so. It makes the deck consistent where previous ramp decks sometimes just drew the wrong combination of spells (ramp decks have only been good when you have a card draw engine late game, such as snow lands + Scrying Sheets/Mouth of Ronom, or a something to make excess land drops worthwhile; such as Terramorphic Expanse + Panglacial Wurm). Zenith is that card. 4 is a necessity.
This card is really not very good. Caw-Blade lists have fewer countermagic this turn, less willingness to leak an early accelerator, and it costs 6 mana normally. Because we want 4 Zeniths, playing too many Traps will mean that they inconsistent. That said, I played 2 because sometimes you just win off an EOT Titan/Eldrazi, and the threat of Trap can make your opponent interract differently with you in the early turns.
This card is SO good in a deck full of 0/X walls, and I would argue the single most important reason why ramp decks are now good again. Killing swords/Jace or even the threat that you might at an inconvenient time do so is a very powerful shift in the matchup. Consider the following situation: you have a Jace in hand, it's turn 4, and you have 4 mana untapped. Your opponent has 3 lands untapped and a plant token or Overgrown Battlement. Do you play the Jace now, or wait until you can hold up countermagic? If you make it, do you Brainstorm/bounce and risk it dying to Beast Within EOT on a land/plant token + attack, or do you +2 and gain minimal advantage when they instant speed Vindicate it? This card is also secretly instant speed Stone Rain for 3 mana, which is an effect that we have not seen in t2 for a long time. I would argue that this, Spellskite and Exarch are the 3 most important cards in t2 from New Phyrexia, not Batterskull/Sword/whatever.
The SB is pretty self explanatory, although you can consider adding 2 Karns and 1 Viridian Corrupter and/or 3 Vengevine for 1 Tumble Magnet, 1 Baloth, 1 Beast Within, 1 Nature's Claim, 1 Summoning Trap (in that order of importance). Tumble Magnet was the 5th Beast Within vs. Titans and not for playing vs Caw=Blade. Not ideal, but I didn't like the alternatives such as Effigy.
So, onto the tournament itself. 57 players, 4 invites, 6 rounds, cut to top 8, then single elimination. I can't remember any names sadly... but that's not a Chinese thing; I have a problem remembering names for any nationality. It is also worth saying that because MTG is relatively more expensive/competitive in China than in US/Europe people will make sure they have the best list available for a tournament like this rather than showing up with homebrews. I saw only one non-tier list in the whole tournament (unless you consider Vampires non tier ;) ) and almost every list was optimised (although whether you run 3-4 Jaces or 0-1 sb Batterskull can be justified strategicially so I'm not even sure here). My opponents' play was also generally tight, although I can think of 2 minor strategic mistakes which helped me.
Sadly, I have no real stories for this tournament in part because I can't speak fluent Chinese, and in part because I was too tired/weary to try to overcome this barrier except for the obvious. After getting a judge to confirm that I had remembered all the card names correctly for my list (all cards were in Chinese) and some research for names of cards to call with revoker (Deciever Exarch, Jace the Mind Sculptor, Stoneforge Mystic, Sword of Feast and Famine) I was off.
WUB Caw-Blade (1-1-1)
My opponent played this match SLOWLY. On any other day I would have called a judge over, but it almost felt impolite given that I knew noone else there and they all didn't really speak Chinese very well (maybe this is how many newer players feel when they go to a ptq for the first time). The matches were generally unexciting. G1 I resolved a Titan and it got me there defended by Eye of Ugin'ed Walls + Mystifying Maze vs his Sword of Feast and Famine. G2 I mulled to 6, keeping a turn 4 Titan hand with a Zenith. My opponent Duressed my Zenith, and on turn 4 Memoricided me for Titan (by which time I had drawn a second). As I had sided out my Avenger of Zendikar, the game was pretty academic from then, as my Summoning Trap missed due to lack of targets, and I was beaten by assorted Squires and Flying Men. G3 ended with my opponent on 1 permanent and 2 life taking the 5th turn of extra turns and facing down Emrakul, a Beast token and a Fauna Shaman. I'm sure there is a lesson to learn here somewhere... . On a serious note, this game highlighted the power of Beast Within vs a 3 colour deck, as I was able to limit his blue (and for the first few turns black too) through Edges and Beast Withins long enough to stop Jace and Preordains (almost all the blue sources in this deck come into play tapped once you have 3 lands) to buy enough time to resolve a Titan whilst Wall of Tanglecord held off Sword.
G2: -2 Spellskite, -2 Garruk, -1 Avenger of Zendikar, +1 Fauna Shaman, +1 Wall of Tanglecord, +1 Beast Within, +1 Tumble Magnet, +1 Summoning Trap
WU Caw-Blade (2-0)
Not much to say. G1 was a long ground out game. G2 he mulled to 5 on the play I made turn 3 Titan, he countered, I Trapped into Emrakul.... and my opponent was still gracious enough to smile, shrug and shake my hand. I've experienced similar in Japan... maybe it's a cultural difference but it makes the tournament experience a lot more pleasent...
WU Caw-Blade (2-1)
Being in the draw bracket was a good thing for this tournament as it meant that I got to play vs WUx decks. This matchup was no exception. G1, a turn 3 Titan was enough to win. However, in G2 my opponenent was smart enough to leave IN his Day of Judgements and side in extras (a strange play vs a monogreen Eldrazi deck, but definitely correct vs a build such as mine). In G3 I sided into the Garruk plan, and was able to win by overloading his countermagic and later Days with Fauna Shaman into Titans. This game had a slight misplay from my opponent which ended up benefitting me. I Corruptered his first Sword + Mystic, and was able to Beast Within Batterskull (essentially turning off his Sword-based offense vs Wall of Tanglecord, which I tutored for with Shaman against an assumed hand of Flashfreezes). However my opponent had a second Sword of Feast and Famine and a Sword of War and Peace, and this was tying down my mana (as I had to Maze one attacker to avoid losing life). At this point, I attacked with Corrupter into a GB-Sworded Mystic and my opponent snap blocked. With Corrupter in the graveyard and Emrakul in my library, I was able to tutor up the Eldrazi EOT, and shuffle my library over the next few turns, eventually trumping Sword with a resolved Corrupter through countermagic. Whilst something similar could have been achieved with Ulamog, I would have been forced to not leave up Maze mana each turn, which could have been crucial. In any case, Emrakul evenutally came down and ended the game after some Titans were countered.
G3: -2 Spellskite, +1 Fauna Shaman, +1 Beast Within (Siding in +2 Garruk for -1 Wall of Tanglecord, -1 Revoker)
GW Tokens (2-1)
Game 1 He played turn 1 Birds, turn 2 Nest Invader, turn 3 Hero [of Bladehold], turn 4 Hero. I lost pretty quickly.
Game 2 I kept a hand of Forest, 2 Treespeaker, Battlement, Zenith, Wall of Tanglecord, Ravenous Baloth. My reasoning for this is threefold. Firstly, I know my opponent is WG, so the chances of him having a removal spell are relatively low (especially as this is the second game). Secondly, I play 28 lands, which means that my chance of drawing a land is a little under 50% each turn. Also, missing my first land drop isn't actually that bad, as I can just make treespeaker number 2, and explode the next turn. Thirdly, even if I miss my first 3 land drops I have ways to get back into the game in 2 Walls, Zenith and a Baloth. I missed on turn 2, but hit my land drop on turn 3, and turn 4 titan was enough to win the game.
Game 3 I play turn 3 Baloth off Battlement, turn 4 Baloth. He basically had another nut draw with Lotus Cobra and double Hero of Bladehold and alpha struck me for 22 damage through blockers, threatening a further 6 damage the next turn, but I am able to fight back long enough to get a Titan into play and Ulamog his Garruk the turn before it can go lethal. However, in the process I lose my Titan to a Beast Eithin token/Hero of Bladehold double block and I was only on 2 life. He also has a lot of tokens to chump with as necessary. 2 attacks later and my opponent is down to 4, with 5 land, 1 card in hand and a Birds of Paradise in play. Here there was an interesting situation. I have 9 lands, one of which is Eye of Ugin, and another which is a Tectonic Edge as well as an untapped Overgrown Battlement and Joraga Treespeaker. By using Eye for Wall of Tanglecord, and playing it, but waiting until his turn to use Edge as well as give my Wall of Tanglecord reach (due to +1 mana from Battlement) I was able to play around both Sword + land, and an artifact removal spell EOT + some sort of pump ability off the top.
G2:+3 Baloth, +1 Revoker, +1 Fauna Shaman, -2 Spellskite, -2 Summoning Trap, -1 Garruk Wildspeaker
WB Caw-Blade (0-2)
Not a lot to say here. This deck was a Caw-Blade deck with better mana and a faster curve including maindeck Mirran Crusader. G1 on a solid board, but needed an answer to either Crusader or a recently played WR Sword (I had Tanglecord in play), I Trapped EOT, hit another Battlement, and shuffled my library in frustration because I forgot how the card work and couldn't read my Chinese card (also because I had cast a Zenith a few turns earlier maybe). This was a game loss, even though I called the judge on myself (I think I would have appealed in England, but I was too tired here). G2 he got me with Emeria Angel and multiple Crusaders (a problem the deck might need to solve as it becomes more popular).
WUB Caw-Blade (2-0)
As in round 1, except that this time in g2 I played very much as if I had a Trap (always do this anyway...). Asking very clearly if each spell resolved as I played it into open mana. As a result my opponent didn't counter a turn 3 Revoker, which named Jace, and this was crucial to grinding out the game as he drew a Jace on the following turn. This was only the second (possible) misplay I saw all day.
WUB Caw-Blade (2-0)
Ramping, Titan, Eldrazi yada yada... I know, these games are pretty repetitive. In G2, he was actually in a position to Memoricide Titan, but expecting this play, I already had Zenithed a Fauna Shaman on the board, which made it pointless as I could tutor for Ulamog in a couple of turns even through countermagic. If he Memoricided Ulamog, I would get Titan, and Emrakul in 2 turns. As a result he played Jace in search of an answer, but didn't find it on that turn or the next and I was q'ed for Chinese nats!
All in all a very pleasant experience. Some quick props and slops:
See you in Beijing on the 1-3rd July if you are in town.
by tarat on 2011-06-01 07:28 CET
by DSD-Steve on 2011-06-01 07:44 CET
That is not Eldrazi Green, this is Eldrazi Ramp! Eldrazi Green is a Mono G Deck with Eldrazi Monument and Elves!
by Mad03 on 2011-06-01 09:00 CET
so you only played 1 thing non cawblade
by Kabelis on 2011-06-01 09:28 CET
by Burton911 on 2011-06-01 09:36 CET
"... and they all didn't really speak Chinese very well ..."
by arcannys on 2011-06-01 10:38 CET
I Q'd for spanish natinals with this deck also.
by ManaLeak on 2011-06-01 12:37 CET
lol @ burton, in america people don't speak or write english well and claim to have it as their main language. The chinese language is complex therefore I could definitely understand if some young chinese nationals were not using grammarically correct chinese all the time.
by AppleofEris on 2011-06-01 12:44 CET
dv8r, you're our hero, gonna take your constructed rating down to zero, you're a power, magnified, and you're fighting on the commie side
by Balthazar88 on 2011-06-01 13:35 CET
This was a nice read. Well done.
by dv8r on 2011-06-01 13:55 CET
I meant they didn't speak english very well... sry, can you edit that roo?
by dv8r on 2011-06-01 14:42 CET
also format a little differently too ;)
by Superduck on 2011-06-01 14:54 CET
dv8r: I've tested a lot against arcannys with green eldrazi (me playing cawBlade), and while I agree that the pairing is not easy at all, I've found a few tips that makes the pairing a bit more favorable:
by dv8r on 2011-06-01 16:05 CET
I think it's difficult to make such sweeping statements because it relies heavily on the deckbuild of each side, and the style of play deployed. For instance, I would say that I use beast within as a stone rain about 60% of the time, and don't have as many clunky cards like acidic slime. I think the matchup is very important to fight on tempo, and this is why fauna shaman is so good in the deck (as it lets you fight the removal/bounce plan by tutoring walls, and then allowing you to switch to titan plan whenever appropriate, I think that the use of spellskite over nature's claim is a huge benefit for this build of the deck, as you don't really want to fight the matchup on reactive cards because jace will get you. It is important to fight on tempo, and rely on maze/zenith/fauna shaman to answer sword as appropriate. If you try to react instead of using beast within and zenith aggressively you will lose. I think this is why we disagree on the matchup so much. I would argue that the matchup is 65-35 in favour of mono green, but I concede that this is build dependent, and maybe 5-10 of those percentage points are because of fauna shaman
by Superduck on 2011-06-01 18:56 CET
Well, it's true that I haven't thought of it that way. When I tested against arcannys, it's true that he was playing really reactive, and the tempo plan was the best I could found. Anyway, with your build, it's also true that it seems more difficult to follow the tempo plan, but it also seems like it gets more crushed by Doj (and oust post SB) than other builds without Fauna Shaman. Although, I have not tested against a list like yours, so I can be completely wrong.
by darkwizard42 on 2011-06-01 23:28 CET
by GreenBear on 2011-06-02 23:11 CET
How can you give slops to barcelona, they are fucking awesome, thats how football should be played.
by Mad03 on 2011-06-10 09:05 CET
have you made any changes to the deck ?
by xChaospherex on 2011-06-12 23:34 CET
Placed 4th on Gameday with a variant on your list based on our conversations. The Avenger of Zendikar contributed a ton to my wins. I remember you were considering cutting it. Don't. Also, the one-of Wurmcoil was awesome. It served its purpose well, and between the Fauna Shamans and Eye of Ugin I was able to hit it reliably. My only changes to your list if I were to go to a tournament tomorrow would be:
by dv8r on 2011-06-13 09:07 CET
by xChaospherex on 2011-06-14 02:22 CET
The Vengevine plan seems really bad. In this deck, it is simply too fair to keep up with the degenerate nature of this meta. Consider also that Extraction hits Vengevine. If it is only there for Extraction decks, I would just diversify the threat base. Those decks tend to have problems with cards ike Gaea's Revenge.
by dv8r on 2011-06-14 12:17 CET
clearly I just can't read....
by dv8r on 2011-06-14 12:19 CET
you side in vengevine vs blade.... or occassionally ub control to keep them guessing
by sonyyknow on 2011-07-01 07:51 CET
omg that deck is awful cawblade is gone time to rethink it !!!
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