CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON...

Posted in NEWS on March 15, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Proper deck selection is key to success in any Constructed format, yet is consistently one of the hardest tasks in Magic. As the variety in a format increases, deck selection somehow manages to get both harder and easier. Obviously, more options leads to more opportunities to make mistakes, hence why too many options can be paralyzing. However, the more viable options there are, the less likelihood that there is an actual "best deck" for a tournament. In situations like this, where there are a number of excellent choices for a tournament, the correct decision is often to go with what you know.

After Round 7, I had a chance to sit down with three of the players we have been watching, each of whom is playing a different deck. First up was the top-rated player in the hosting Argentina, Andres Monsalve.

Andres Monsalve's choice of Uw Devotion is particularly appropriate to represent Argentina.

"I am playing Uw Devotion. It's the version of Monoblue Devotion running white for Detention Sphere and Ephara, God of the Polis. The thing that made me pick this deck is that Detention Sphere is good against all of the tricks that other decks try to use to beat Monoblue, like Pack Rat and Desolation Demon—those are the two big ones. Detention Sphere also gives you an edge in mirror matches, against Chained to the Rocks, against Elspeth... The match against Esper and WU Control are made way better because you can actually deal with their threats while still smashing with your creatures. I played the deck without the white in the last PTQ and ended up in 3rd, and I felt good about the deck, so I decided to go with that feeling, update it to include the white, and bring it here.

We weren't quite sure what to expect when we came here because everything is viable. I wanted to play a deck that would be good against random decks and have a good sideboard plan against decks like Esper, Monoblack Devotion, and WU Control—the big decks. WU Control is the absolute matchup, but I think I've gotten it to where it's about 50/50. That's why I wanted to play this deck."

Second on my list was the Captain Rookie himself, Chile's Rookie of the Year Felipe Tapia Becerra.

Felipe Tapia Becerra has opted for a more aggressive version of Esper featuring El Rey.

"I am playing Esper Midrange, not Humans. I played this deck because it would let me play Brimaz, King of Oreskos. I love Brimaz. I also play Ephara, God of the Polis, Obzedat, Ghost Council... Obzedat, Brimaz, and Ephara are the main reasons to play the deck.

I know all of the decks in the format, but I've played more of this deck. On paper, this deck is very strong, but it's very difficult to play it. Even here, I haven't played the deck 100% perfectly, and I have lost three times because of that. It's a very good deck, just difficult to play. Just like with Esper Control, you always have options and difficult decisions. Sometimes, you need to play Obzadat. Others, you need to play Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Still others, you need to play two small creatures. It can be difficult to know which of them is the right call without enough time playing the deck.

So many of the decks in this format are powerful, even if they don't necessarily play the same. For example, in this tournament, Boros Burn would have been a very good choice, and it is one of the more straightforward decks to play. Esper is incredibly difficult to play but is still a very good deck. In Standard right now, it is often best to just play the deck that you know the best. I really like decks like this, so I played it. I get too impatient and jittery playing control. I need to have something to attack with, and this deck is perfect for that."

The final player I wanted to check in with was the tenth-ranked player in the world, Brazilian superstar Willy Edel.

Willy Edel chose to play with fire, but he might get burned...

"For this tournament, I chose to play Boros Burn. I think the deck is kind of well-positioned right now. The only really bad matchup is the RG Monsters deck, but people have started to splash now, either for white or black, and, if they splash it's better for you. The deck has great matchups against all of the UW decks.

Now, when I say that the deck is really well-positioned, I admit that this was like two weeks ago. The deck is very popular on Magic Online right now, so people have started to use sideboard cards like Fiendslayer Paladin, Archangel of Thune, cards that people hadn't played for a while but have come back for this tournament. So it may not be a good choice for this specific tournament, but it is supposed to be really well-positioned right now.

There are a lot of Hallowed Fountains in the field this weekend, which is very good for me, but, for example, I just lost to a deck with Fiendslayer Paladin, Archangel of Thune, and Last Breath. Two weeks ago, people were not playing Last Breath. They'd just play Ultimate Price. Now that players are coming back to cards like Last Breath, which are really bad for this deck, it may be a worse choice."