Pro Tour Fate Reforged Deck Diaries: Ari Lax (Part 2)

Posted in NEWS on February 17, 2015

By Event Coverage Staff

Yesterday, we took a look at the first half of eighth-ranked Ari Lax's Deck Diaries for Pro Tour Fate Reforged. Today, we wrap up the evolution and decision of Lax's deck for the Pro Tour.


Eighth-ranked Ari Lax

January 29

I've been testing a fair amount, but not necessarily the post-board burn games. I'm moving towards Burn derivatives to avoid hate. Steve Rubin has been working on this list, and it's currently a front-runner. Zoo has more issues with just Lightning Helix out of Control and Blood Moon, but it is way better against Leyline of Sanctity and Kor Firewalker. Leyline is specifically an issue if we expect a ton of B/G/x as you will get hit by it on splash hate duty.

As for this deck, it's riding a lot of fine lines. 20/20/20 style decks always do, especially in the face of removal. That said it has a lot of big gains. Become Immense is pretty insane in terms of raw damage output, and Eidolon is even better here than in Burn as you have more on board pressure. Basically all the new additions work to punish the old "play Goyf into 2-3 attackers" line as instead of being stalled out you can reach right through it. The mana needs work (not sold on the Arbor or the Gorges), but the deck was testing well against Abzan. The whole lack of Bolts thing strikes again!

Ari Lax's Zoo – PTFRF Deck Diary January 29

Download Arena Decklist

February 2

Crunch time after a very busy weekend in San Jose. I'm down to four options, and will be making the official decision Wednesday. Pretty sure the most important decks to beat at the Pro Tour are Abzan, Zoo (likely Little Zoo), Affinity, Twin, and Tron.

The aforementioned Zoo deck is the least likely. I'm leaving that to Steve Rubin to figure out.

Then there's Jeskai Twin, championed by Frank Skarren. I'm leaving all of that to him.

Then it's Abzan, with a list I've refined myself. The deck is heavy on Lingering Souls as that is the big mirror breaker as it bricks Liliana. I'm not a huge fan of Scavenging Ooze, but nothing else has tested well. Dark Confidant is also unexciting in a number of match-ups, and if I find another good threat I could see shaving to 3. Knight of the Reliquary is one of the front runners there. 1-1-1-1 non-Decay removal split is actually finely tested. Cut is best, but you can't play 2 because of Bob. Also I couldn't play two with Knight, so that doesn't solve anything. Path is next best but often hard to cast. Dismember is easiest to cast but can easily be a liability against Burn or Zoo. Pulse is just nice as it gives you flexibility and out, and I would snap-play a second if there wasn't already a glut of three drops.

The sideboard is pretty awesome. The negotiable slot is that the Engineered Explosives might become something less geared to beating small creatures and more of a Damnation-style card to beat people who show up with Wilt-Leaf Liege or whatever nonsense. No joke about that last part, as I think Brian Kibler might be the hidden favorite to crush this PT.

Ari Lax's Abzan – PTFRF Deck Diary February 2

Download Arena Decklist

And then there is Burn, the deck I've been championing all along. The Abzan match-up isn't a slam dunk, but nothing really does that. The edge with Burn is you have insurance against all of the random decks. Someone shows up with Golgari Grave-Troll? Good thing I clock you on turn four and basically don't interact. I've come to the conclusion all of the random sideboard cards just suck unless they kill a thing and deal damage at the same time and I want as much anti-hate as possible. I also determined Searing Blaze is way better than Searing Blood, which was a holdover from a era with Noble Hierarchs and Young Pyromancers everywhere instead of Wild Nacatls and Tarmogoyfs. The big questions are the main deck Lightning Helix, which I'm sure is terrible, whether I want Black in the sideboard for Crackling Doom or whatnot, and whether I want Flamebreak to manage Little Zoo.

Ari Lax's Burn – PTFRF Deck Diary February 2

Download Arena Decklist

End of Day Updates:

I got in way more testing than expected as I got stuck in Atlanta and didn't go into work. Shrout and Ross tested some Burn against a super over-boarded Abzan deck and went 5-6, which is promising as they also described their Burn list in a way I find suboptimal (i.e. Fulminator Mage was good against it). I played the deck in a Daily Event and an 8-Man on an alternate account and was pretty impressed with everything I had set up.

I realized that I might want one Glare of Heresy as sometimes Wear // Tear isn't good against Leyline decks, and that I might want to go +2 fetch-land, -1 basic, -1 Foundry to increase my fetch density with Blaze, which was awesome. I also discovered a sicko interaction with Pyrite Spellbomb killing Etched Champion. The main deck Flames of the Blood Hand wasn't really that exciting and might just go for curve reasons, but I'm unsure what replaces it. I also really solidified my anti-Affinity sideboard plan, which involves shaving down on Eidolons and all the burn spells that go to the face only and killing all the things.

Before you ask, yes, this is 59/15. The last list was 60/14 with a sideboard Relic that has since been cut.

Ari Lax's Burn Part 2 – PTFRF Deck Diary February 2

Download Arena Decklist

February 4

No real updates today, as I've gone deep on Booster Draft after spending a day making the lovely 11 hours of straight travel to get from Atlanta to Boston to my apartment for 10 minutes to get my cards to airport again to DC. The deck is in mostly the same state. I'm back to the Helix main after playing a mirror. Current sideboard is now even more cards, and I'm going to whittle it down tomorrow. Most likely state is the one from the last update honestly, but it's worth branching out and considering more.

2 Molten Rain
3 Wear and Tear
3 Searing Blaze
2 Smash to Smithereens
3 Lightning Helix/Kor Firewalker/other hate solely for mirror
3 Relic of Progenitus
3 Path to Exile
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
1 Glare of Heresy

February 5

Here's the final sideboard after some Magic Online and talking with Sharfman through the numbers.

4 Wear and Tear
3 Path to Exile
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
2 Dragon's Claw
2 Molten Rain
2 Searing Blaze

Simple. Glare of Heresy sucked, and I already had five forms of removal for Kor Firewalker that was flexible as opposed to the inflexible when in-hand Glare. Going to 4 Wear and Tear solved the sideboard space issue by letting Smash slots be double purposed. Dragon's Claw is in over the Helixes as I'm already Path/Searing Blazing Zoo and I think I just want the mirror hate. That against Helix and the main deck land configuration are the most likely to shift around.

Lax's final deck can be seen below.

Ari Lax

Download Arena Decklist

Lax's Burn deck earned him 18 match points (a 6-4 record) during the Pro Tour, contributing to his final finish of 87th place. 

Check the Events page tomorrow to see another player's Pro Tour Fate Reforged Deck Diary!