Two New Decks

Posted in Event Coverage on July 12, 2003

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

Both Jun-Wei Hew and Ben Seck came into this tournament with three byes. Normally that is a good thing but both players are sporting freshly designed decks and while they will start out with a 3-0 record and excellent tie-breakers it also means they have three rounds to second guess their deck choices.

Mind's Desire
Jun-Wei caused a bit of a stir last night when both he and Ben played his deck in Grand Prix Trials. The deck is called Dark Desires and it is a Black-Green Mind's Desire deck that only has a pair of Islands to fire up the card that is so potentially powerful it has already been restricted in the Vintage format—Mind's Desire. There are a number of unusual card choices—including Cabal Ritual and Infernal Contract. Unlike the Blue-Green versions form Euros that rely on Brain Freeze for the kill Jun-Wei's deck is capable of killing with fewer spells on the stack thanks to Tendrils of Agony.

Like many deck designers, Jun-Wei was itching to break Mind's Desire as soon as he saw the Scourge spoiler list. "We built all of the various versions of Blue-Green. They seemed clumsy with cards like Spelljack in the main deck. While the deck could go off as early as turn five it was so reliant on drawing a Mind's Desire that it was inconsistent."

Jun-Wei tried every version of the deck—including a Blue-Red version with Siege Gang Commander!—but he kept going back to the drawing board. He eventually became enamored with Cabal Ritual as a pseudo-Early Harvest and once he put that in the deck the flood gates were open. "I ended up cutting almost every single blue card except for Deep Analysis and Mind's Desire to put in Tainted Pact and Infernal Contract."

After playing in a Grand Prix Trial and falling a turn short in his two losses to Goblins and Red-Green Beats, Jun decided to cut the Deep Analysis as well in favor of Diabolic Tutor. "Since you could not reliably flip into the 2nd Desire you could now tutor for it and actually cast it." He briefly considered cutting Mind's Desire altogether since you can actually stack enough spells without it to just win with a Tendrils of Agony. Reason prevailed and the powerful blue spell remained in the deck.

Jun-Wei was nervous as he waited to play with his deck. His sideboard was in flux right up until the time decklists were turned in. He added Decree of Pain at the last minute but was kicking himself for missing Drinker of Sorrow as a potential candidate against Wake and other control decks, "Curses! How could I have missed that?"

His match-up against Zombies is close to unwinnable but with three byes he was hoping that those decks would have fallen to the Red-Green decks that seem to be everywhere—although that is akin to hoping the sharks eat all the alligators. As he is says, "Well, Blue-Green is also tough, Red-Green is hard...gee, maybe this was a bad choice after all..." Nick Wong—who considered playing the deck last night explained, "This deck can kill on turn five—the only problem is that Red-Green kills on turn four."

Despite those concerns, Jun is playing the deck anyway. "I would probably say that Olivier Ruel's build with Trade Secrets is superior. It uses the same engine but it is only two colors. I don't expect to make Day 2 but this has become something of a personal quest."

One of the things that Jun-Wei has to fear is the buzz his deck generated during two Trials last night. One Stifle could ruin his whole day and he was hoping that nobody would think to dedicate sideboard slots for the emerging Desire decks. Ben Seck on the other hand will have the luxury of the element of surprise. He is running a brand new creation, an Enchantress deck that is vaguely similar to Gabriel Nassif's nearly triumphant deck from the Yokahama Masters.

The deck has been something that Ben has toyed with since Enchantress's Presence was first printed. An early version of the deck was put on the back burner when he continually found himself getting devastated by Upheaval. When Nassif exploited Words of Wind at the Masters, Ben saw a way to keep his opponents from reaching Upheaval mana and he found himself back at the drawing board.

Enchantress's Presence
Ben has always been known for his deck designs. He is the point of origin for current Reanimator decks in the Standard format and prides himself on his 'rogue' success. There is more to it than that though. At a Grand Prix with a relatively low Pro Player turnout—there are only 46 players with Pro Points in the 250 plus field—Ben likes the idea of presenting his opponent with the unexpected. "At this level there are not that many players capable of thinking on their feet. Players prepare for an event like this by studying the existing archetypes. I am hoping that players are not able to make the crucial decisions without the experience to inform them. I haven't even worked out how I would attack this deck at various points."

Ben relies on Mobilization as his kill card but he prefers to say that he "kills them with inevitability. I have had situations where my Mobilizations have been Echoed from the game and I won with a Bird and Mirari's Wake."

Solitary Confinement is the key to the deck's success in a field full of aggro decks. Ben has no concerns about keeping the Confinement going. In fact, playtest sessions have played out where he has had up to four copies of the enchantment on the board at the same time. "If you are playing an enchantment or two every turn you will still have a full hand."

Ben also waffled in regards to his sideboard. He had two Transcendence written down but crossed them out in favor of Words of Worship. While the Transcendence is a nearly fool-proof plan against Sulfuric Vortex he didn't feel confident in a two-card combo that depended on your opponent playing one of the parts.

Red-Green is still a rough match-up for him despite winning most Game 1s. "Games two and three really depend on how they sideboard."

Jun-Wei Hew

Download Arena Decklist
Sideboard (16)
3 Compost 2 Decree of Pain 4 Duress 2 Mana Short 2 Krosan Restorer 2 Spelljack 1 Visara, the Dreadful

Ben Seck

Download Arena Decklist

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