Your Deck, Your Idea, Your Champs

Posted in Feature on October 18, 2005

By John H. Klauk

Oh yeah! Can you feel the excitement in the air?! It is that time again folks! Time for the BEST Standard Constructed tournament. It’s time for Champs, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

For the uninitiated, Champs is the annual Magic: The Gathering® State/Province/Island/Territory event.

Historically, this event has earned the winner the right to…



Well, they’re the Champ baby! What else do you want? A shiny little plaque that proves it? Okay, I guess Wizards will throw that in. Since you asked and all. They’ll also toss in a cool Top 8 play mat if you earn a spot among the seven other competitors who will eventually fall before your might. They will fall, right? You’ve already got your dominating strategy planned out, don’t you?

Don’t you...?

Well, you are in luck then, my friend. And why is that? Oh yeah, because you’re a member of Magic Player Rewards, and as such, you get to read all this information for free! And as it just so happens, this very issue has an article with some suggestions for ideas to start from and/or prepare against at Champs. On top of that, you’re reading that very article. That, my friend, is just how lucky you are.

Wow! You are having a good day. With the way your luck is going, I bet if you check the mail you might even have something amazing in it today. Who knows, it could be a foil Hypnotic Specter or something.*

Ok, so you probably figured out that I’m going to show you some deck lists and ideas for MtG Champs. Here’s the thing you’re probably asking yourselves. Who is this guy to tell ME what I should be playing or what other people MIGHT be playing? Well, let me tell you.

First, no, I am not a Pro Player (yet, mind you). I am, however, a Top 5 ranked player in my home state of Mississippi. Second and more importantly, since we are speaking about State Championships, I have made Top 8 five times out of the last 7 years I have played in States. That’s got to count for something. I mean, not a Pro Tour invite or nothing, but a play mat at least, right? And to say I did this playing something “unusual” would be an understatement.** So while some of the builds I may present below look like something you will say, “Yep, that’s what I would think would be in that,” others are going to make you turn your head sideways like a muppet and go, “huh?”. My only comment on that is, don’t dismiss it until you have actually put it together, shuffled it up, and truly put it through the ringer.

With that said, my teammates from Klaukwork Wizards and myself have been doing just that. We have been stirring up the card pool with a dab of Ravnica™ and a pinch of creativity. All this brewing has led us to take a look at several deck ideas. So, how else can I show them to you other than to say…

“Can you smell what the Klauk is cooking!?”

We thought it was a good idea to look at a build of each guild that Ravnica brings to the table. My personal favorite color combination has always been red-white. So, this is what our current build looks like:

Red-White Aggro Equip

We approached this build with the mindset that if we wanted to play agro we should be playing either white weenie or white-green, as those seem better suited to that task. What does red-white bring that those two don’t? Sunforger was our answer. My personal favorite trick so far is to attack with a Sunforger-equipped Paladin en-Vec. They take the beat, and then when they swing back, you unequip and get Inspirit. Usually, they stop attacking after that because they fear you will do it again. Like I said, just my personal favorite trick.

Really though, this color combination will be played. I think the builds that succeed will either avoid the white weenie and white-green matchups or find a build that really capitalizes off what red-white brings to the table over other color combinations. Me, I keep picking up and setting down Searing Meditation. Maybe if I had more time to figure it out…

Now for THE aggro color beating. I mean combination. White-green. Wow! Garr! Woof! This thing is a beatstick and then some.

White-Green Aggro

Instant (4)
4 Devouring Light
Artifact (4)
4 Crown of Convergence
Other (8)
4 Sensei’s Divining Top 4 Umezawa’s Jitte
60 Cards

This deck is not the fastest aggro deck ever, but it has a much better mid to late game than other aggro decks. The Verdant Force ensures that Crown of Convergence interacts with Sensei’s Divining Top in a way that almost feels dirty. You can guarantee you will not only see but also play against white-green at States.

We haven’t really decided what strategy best suits black-blue. We are divided on whether it should be a control deck that mills away at its opponent’s library or a control deck that tries to win via combat. This one will be the one most people will dismiss, but it is the one that intrigues me the most (cue foreshadowing music for what I will play at States perhaps?).

Black-Blue Animator

Sorcery (4)
4 Zombify
Other (3)
3 Horobi’s Whisper
60 Cards

Not a bad basis. We haven’t played it much yet, but the little we have, we have quickly discovered it needs work. But it’s the idea that is good. Maybe you can explore it more and put together the better mousetrap with this thing. Good luck. I’m rooting for you on this one.

That leaves us with good old black-green. I played this color combination last year while most were slinging artifacts and their disciples. Of course, there are others that seem to always play this color combination. A certain champion from Atlanta comes to mind. This guild brings a lot to the Standard environment. Take a look at this, for example:


Instant (4)
4 Putrefy
Artifact (4)
4 Plague Boiler
Other (8)
4 Kodama’s Reach 4 Sensei’s Divining Top
60 Cards

It’s straight forward, that’s for sure. Gleancrawler is just plain silly. Look for fun times with a Sakura-Tribe Elder and Sensei’s Divining Top in play while you’ve got the Gleancrawler in play.

If reading over, studying, or glancing at these deck lists/ideas doesn’t get you excited about the creativity and open field that MtG Champs brings to the table, then nothing will. Just know that you can go with YOUR idea, YOUR deck, and compete at Champs. I’m proof. Who knows, you may even be able to claim you stumbled onto an engine first that later shows up on the Pro Tour.***

Go. Have fun. Bring me back some stories and we’ll swap.

Catch Ya’ll Later,
John H. Klauk
Klaukwork Wizard on MtGO
johnklauk at

* If you scrolled down to this then my subliminal messages have finally worked and you are mailing all your foil Hypnotic Specters to me as we speak. Well, those and all your Pale Moons.

** Past builds include everything from a Veteran Brawlers deck to last year’s Kamikaze deck. It’s Champs! Let’s have some fun people.

*** Cough! Hana Kami/Soulless Revival. Cough! -ok… so I missed the Gifts part. Nobody is perfect.

John started playing Magic back when Antiquities came out. He is a frequent top 8 finisher at PTQs and States using non-archetype decks and is a Regional Coordinator for the Delegate program. John also guarantees that he will get milled out at least one match this year.

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