A year ago, Chilean Luis Navas had just started playing Magic. This weekend, at his first Grand Prix, he’s a serious contender for the Top 8.
All thanks to Mogis’s Marauders.
[insert card image Mogis’s Marauders]
That may be overstating the case, but if it is, it’s not by much, especially not after I watched a Mogis Marauders lead Navas’ troops past a slew of Soldier tokens in a key game to help Navas move to 10-1 on the weekend.
Because I know you’re already scrolling down for the deck list, let’s get that out of the way up front.
4 Blood Crypt
4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Tormented Hero
1 Thrill-Kill Assassin
4 Spike Jester
4 Rakdos Shred-Freak
4 Mogis’s Marauder
3 Xathrid Necromancer
4 Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch
4 Madcap Skills
4 Lightning Strike
2 Doom Blade
*2 Burning Earth
*2 Erebos, God of the Dead
*2 Mizzium Mortars
*1 Rakdos Guildgate
*2 Whip of Erebos
The elegance of so many 4-ofs appeals not only to the coverage reporter in me who has to type up deck lists, but also the old-school player in me who is still getting over the era where four was always correct.
Four is almost certainly correct for all of Navas’s choices, including the Mogis’s Marauders. The deck is fast, streamlined, and unforgiving to opponents who stumble. Exactly what Navas was looking for.
The deck, Navas said, came from a desire to do well against Mono Black Devotion and Esper Control. He wanted something fast and resilient that didn’t lose to sweepers or Doom Blades. The answer he came to was a base-Black deck that plays a heck of a lot like a Red deck.
Navas has as many, or even more, haste creatures as Mono Red while still getting to dip into disruption (Thoughtseize) and ways to kill Master of Waves, a constant worry for Red mages everywhere. The Mogis’s Marauders were merely the icing on the cake that let him swing past hordes of blockers out of Mono Blue and Makihito Mihara’s Green/red Devotion deck.
Marauders and Thoughtseize are two of Navas’s primary advantages over playing Mono Red, a deck that’s similarly positioned. He also gains a significantly better matchup against Mono Blue (aka, Master of Waves) and more resilience to sweepers, thanks in large part to Xathrid Necromancers.
[insert card images Thoughtseize and Xathrid Necromancer]
“They can play Anger of the Gods or Supreme Verdict and you’re fine,” he said. “It’s not like Mono Red where sometimes you play a few guys and they play a sweeper and you lose.”
Navas also pointed out a curiosity with the deck: many of his creatures are Human, making Xathrid Necromancer especially potent. It’s not something you expect out of a Black/Red deck, but Necromancer makes control decks make some very, very hard decisions.
The other advantage is that all of his creatures are Black, meaning Doom Blade is an ineffective counter to his creature horde.
What he loses with the deck, however, are points against Mono Red, where he says he’s the underdog.
“The aggressive, fast mono Red. Sometimes it’s just too much. They play Rakdos Cackler and Burning-Tree Emissary into Firefist Striker, and you just can’t win. It’s a race, and they’re better racing.”
Beyond that, Navas likes his matchups across the board. He particularly pointed out Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch as an underplayed card that basically makes his deck.
“I play four at the end of the curve. It sometimes combos with Rakdos Cackler and Thrill-Kill Assassin,” he said. “In fact, sometimes the deck can play something like combo with Exava or Marauders letting you attack for a ton of damage.”
Caption: Mogis’s Marauders, Madcap Skills, and Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch have fueled Luis Navas’s run to the top of the standings this weekend.
Navas also called out Madcap Skills, a card not even the fast Red decks are touching this weekend. It’s especially effective, he pointed out, on Tormented Hero.
“That one damage counts.”
Out of the sideboard, Navas has two Erebos, God of the Dead to turn off the lifegain for both Mono Black and Esper, since the main ways he loses those matches are either Blood Baron of Vizkopa or Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Burning Earth and a full complement of Thoughtseize also helps fight Esper. Mizzium Mortars is there almost exclusively to tackle the Blood Baron problem.
On the flip side, he has two Whip of Erebos to combat other aggressive decks and let him race more effectively.
Rounding things out, the removal spells deal with all matter of problematic permanents, from Master of Waves to Loxodon Smiter.
And with Esper, Mono Black Devotion, and Mono Blue Devotion dominating the Day 2 metagame [link to Day 2 metagame piece], giving Navas good matchups up and down the standings, don’t be surprised if the Chilean’s first Grand Prix is also his first Top 8.