Posted in NEWS on March 22, 2014

By Blake Rasmussen

Blake is the content manager for, making him the one you should email if you have thoughts on the website, good or less good (or not good). He's a longtime coverage reporter and hasn't turned down a game of Magic in any format ever.

In Round 4, Hall of Famer, ace deck designer, and all around interesting guy to cover Patrick Chapin won so fast I didn't get a chance to talk to him after his feature match. What's a coverage reporter to do?

Bring him back for a text feature so he can't get away so easily, of course.

It doesn't hurt that Chapin's fans are surely peering into their computer screens back home trying to discern what the famous Mr. Chapin has in store for them this time around. Since the release of Theros and the subsequent Pro Tour—where he finished 9th—Chapin has stayed pretty true to either Mono Black or Black White Midrange decks and found relative success with both.

Robert Hayes, meanwhile, hadn't found any success at the Grand Prix or Pro Tour level lately—because he's never played in one. A veteran of the StarCity Games circuit, Hayes is nonetheless playing in his first Grand Prix after six years of playing Magic.

And now he was in the feature match area.

"Welcome to this side of things," Chapin greeted with a smile on his face.

The decks

Chapin promised he had an "interesting story for a boring deck" that we'll share a bit later when we talk about variations in the Midrange Black decks later on today. For the moment, we can pretty much just say Chapin is playing a stock Mono Black. He was on Lifebane Zombie over Nightveil Specter but was, otherwise, playing pretty much the same Mono Black deck we've come to know and love.

Hayes was playing something close to the same, but going a little deeper into White for cards like Obzedat, Ghost Council and Blood Baron of Vizkopa. He was also playing Read the Bones in place of some number of Underworld Connections, a trend which has been catching steam as having actual Devotion has become less and less important.

Chapin had a slight edge in consistency and in having better Lifebane Zombies, but Hayes had some advantages of his own with Blood Baron and Obzedat doing quite a bit of heavy lifting. After the match, Chapin said one of the main advantages of BW was that it was a bit better in the mirror, thanks in large part to the lifelinking vampire.

On a weekend when variations meant everything, there's little doubt the subtle differences between these two lists could dictate the match results.

The games

Right off the bat, Chapin's Thoughtseize revealed the near mirror match we had going, with Hayes starting with a grip full of Lifebane Zombies and Desecration Demons—plus a Thoughseize that Chapin gladly relieved him of.

The reason? Turn two Pack Rat, of course.

That monster of the mirror immediately became Chapin's plan, skipping any pretense of trying something else and simply making rats every turn.

Hayse may have made a mistake by trading off his Lifebane Zombies for two rat tokens, however, as Chapin was able to Devour Flesh a Desecration Demon and continue making Pack Rats. Hayes had known about the Devour Flesh from Lifebane Zombie but had chosen not to play around it.

Or was it? Hold that thought for a moment.

Hayes started trading creatures for Pack Rat tokens early on. Mistake..or genius?


A second Demon held the fort for Hayes, but it looked like Chapin might run away with the game on the back of a bevy of rats.


However, a tricky play let Hayes wrest the game back under his control. With three rats under Chapin's control and enough mana and cards to make one more, Hayes targeted Chapin with Thoughtseize to try and get a rat activation. When Chapin complied, that gave Hayes the opening he needed to Bile Blight away the three rats in play.

It's important to note at this point that if Hayes hadn't traded off with the rats, they would have grown too large to Bile Blight away. By keeping the Rats manageable early he opened himself up to Devour Flesh but gave himself an out to actually killing the rats—which turned out to be far more important.

Now with more room to work, Hayes cast Obzedat to go with his Desecration Demon. With Chapin down to no cards in hand, he was unable to fight back and instead found himself quickly dropped from 20 to zero.

Picking up where he left off in the first game, Chapin once again fired off a first turn Thoughtseize, proactively stripping a problematic Blood Baron of Vizkopa, but spotting Elspeth, Sun's Champion, Bile Blight and Desecration Demon along the way. Two turns later a Lifebane Zombie—now with no targets—revealed Hayes had simply drawn more land.

The answer to Blood Baron of Vizkopa was so close Chapin could touch it...if only he could actually use it.


And he continued to do so, finding nothing new of note over the next several turns, a fact he revealed when he lost Elspeth—his last non-land card, to a Duress.


Chapin, however, wasn't doing much better. When he lost his Lifebane Zombie he lost his entire offense and soon found himself on the wrong end of a Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Chapin had the requisite Devour Flesh, but needed to clear out a Mutavault before it would actually take out the Blood Baron.

Unable to find a way to do so despite Underworld Connections, Chapin simply lost to a few attacks from Blood Baron of Vizkopa.