Sights of Summer

Posted in The Week That Was on June 1, 2007

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.

Hey everyone, welcome to summer—which unofficially began on May 20 for me. Forget about that summer solstice thing in late June (for us northern-hemisphere dwellers)...I am here to talk about the summer season of Magic, which started in May when Future Sight became legal for Constructed formats (most notably Regional and National competitions).

Future SightThe introduction of Future Sight into mix would have made both Grand Prix–Columbus and Grand Prix–Strasbourg radically different events. While there were 124 Hulk Flash decks out of the pre-Future Sight 883-person field in Columbus, one has to assume that number would be higher with the addition of Summoner's Pact and Pact of Negation to further streamline the deck. However, it is funny to note that the winning Columbus deck—Billy Moreno's Hulk Flash version with the Counterbalance/Top engine—would not mind running up against Pact-packed decks since any of those free spells can be countered by a humble Island resting on or near the top of that deck.

But if you have already read Aaron's column, that version of the deck is best saved for What-if Week or Vintage Week. Legacy players will have to drool over the possibilities of playing with a retooled version of the dreaded Replenish decks from Regionals of yesteryear.

Sayan Bhattacharyya – Winner, Replenish

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Speaking of Regionals...they are looming over the North American horizon in a couple of weeks. I am actually going to get a chance to play this year and have been keeping an eye out for relevant events over the past few weeks. There have been a handful of United Kingdom Nationals qualifiers (their version of Regionals) and those lists should start migrating into the decklist page over the next few weeks, but in the meanwhile I have had intrepid cub reporters Danny Gardner and Gavin Verhey unearthing decklists from various message boards in the U.K. and Germany.

All three sets of lists come from events that took place on the either the May 26 or 27. The first was actually a $1,000 tournament hosted by Star City Games on Saturday. I am sure you will be hearing (and seeing) plenty about these lists between now and next week. Videographer Evan Erwin of The Magic Show made a Top 4 appearance with his Glittering Wish Control deck and is sure to have captured the sights and sounds of that event in his weekly Magic video. People are also sure to be excited to see Brian Schneider's name appearing in the Top 8, but it is not the former R&D member piloting Dragonstorm. Instead, it is a former Virginia State Champion of the same name.

Peter Akeley – Winner, Gruul

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Scott Rogers – Finalist, Project X

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Evan Erwin – Semifinalist, Glittering Wish Control

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Guillermo Mercado – Semifinalist, Blue-red-black Reanimator

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Richard Adams – Quarterfinalist, Gruul

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Brian Schneider – Quarterfinalist, Dragonstorm

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Bryan Upham – Quarterfinalist, Korlash Control

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Mike Ward – Quarterfinalist, Pickles

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Future Sight made its presence known with cards in all but one of the Top 8 decks. The most impactful card appears to be Glittering Wish, which appeared in Erwin's toolbox deck and in the second-place Project X combo deck piloted by Rogers. It is Erwin's deck that really underscores the impact of the card, as his deck is constructed around accessing key silver bullets with the Future Sight rare (while Project X already existed without the tutor).

Bridge from Below
Notably missing from this Top 8 is one particular Future Sight card which has been generating a Flash-like level of hysteria around the web—Bridge from Below. It was unclear whether or not the players in Virginia were sandbagging their Dredge decks for Regionals weekend or if everyone was simply armed to beat them with Tormod's Crypts, Leyline of the Voids and Yixlid Jailers.

I know that when I spoke with Danny Gardner about his Regionals experience in the U.K., he bemoaned his lack of preparation against the blindingly fast but fairly vulnerable combo deck, taking two early losses and getting knocked out of contention. There has been a fair amount of heat generated about this deck in the past week, with partisans of the deck claiming that Bridge decks are a truck you can either be on or under come Regionals weekend. The detractors say that truck has to navigate potholes, caltrops, landmines, and traffic cops and will have a rough time getting where it wants to go.

Five Questions with Evan Erwin

Magic Show creator Evan Erwin was kind enough to poke his head out of his editing room and answer five questions about his tournament experience last weekend, discussing his glittery toolbox, the hype about Bridge decks, and the card he is waiting to see bust out from Future Sight.

1. What led you to play the deck you ran?

Evan: I like control decks. They're comfortable to me. For example, I made Top 8 at States last year on the back of red-white-black Firemane, which is slow as dirt. I really enjoy long games with lots of options. Glittering Wish is the ultimate toolbox card, as the other Wishes were more refined, and this can grab practically anything you need at the time: Mortify, Dragon, Knell, etc.

Glittering Wish
I'm a very lazy deckbuilder. I generally look at the best lists I can find and tweak them accordingly. As I explain in the show this week, I took a look at Joshua Price's list from the last SCG $1K ("green-white-black Control"), removed four cards from it (Skeletal Vampire, Angel of Despair, Teneb, and a Hierarch), moved the multicolor cards to the board, and added four Glittering Wishes. I had to use three Wrath of God and two Damnation because I didn't have access to three Damnation. I then threw in every good multicolor tutor card I could think of.

The only real dead fish in my sideboard is Ghost Council, which I could never use because the mana base sucks. Not just because of the three Wrath/two Damnation problem, but in general. I tried to tweak it a little (adding a Selesnya Sanctuary and basic Plains to my updated build running with the article this Friday), but the deck is very susceptible to artifact hate. I lost my Top 4 match because the guy was running Tin Street Hooligan and destroyed my Signet in both games. Argh.

2. How much were you gunning for Bridge decks?

Evan: Honestly, not much at all. I feel that anyone crazy enough to rely solely on their graveyard when the player base is well versed on how the deck works is nuts. There is SO much hate, and that same hate can come from the "splash damage" of people running Extirpate and Tormod's Crypts for Project X, along with the sad realization that a Rusalka on the board means Bridge has no game and must win through conventional (and horribly slow) means. It can be insanely fast, but I've always felt Dragonstorm is just better.

3. Were there a lot of Bridge decks in the tournament? This is the only Top 8 I have seen so far without a Bridge in it. I was wondering if the deck was hated out or if people were just holding it in reserve for Regionals.

Evan: There were a few near the top tables during the day; I saw one that looked really scary. It was using the "correct" build with Drowned Rusalkas, etc, but couldn't goldfish faster than their Dragonstorm opponent.

I don't think anyone is saving it for Regionals. I think the deck is just suboptimal when compared to the Deck to Beat (Dragonstorm) and the myriad of control decks that have plenty of ways of fighting it. Delay, alone, is a beating when played on a Dredge spell like Life from the Loam. That's not to say it won't be at Regionals, because it will, but that I think most decks are prepared for it both in cards and strategy.

4. Were there any cool decks that missed the Top 8?

Evan: Not really. The whole damn field was Project X, and I still fail to see the allure of that deck. Destroy Crypt Champion in response to their Saffi trigger and they fizzle. They're an aggro/combo deck that isn't very good at either of those things. I wish I could say I scoped out something interesting but I think the most interesting deck I did see did make Top 8: The Korlash Control build was REALLY cool.

5. Which card from Future Sight had the biggest impact on the tournament?

Evan: For this one, I'm guessing Korlash. I still believe the card with the most potential is Tarmogoyf, and I was very close to taking a Tarmogoyf deck with stuff like Edge of Autumn + Flagstones of Trokair, Street Wraith, and Scout's Warning for huge Tarmogoyfs early (or for pumping out a Tombstalker on turn two or three) but it was inconsistent and the mana was a disaster. So I defaulted to what was comfortable, and it performed very well. I went 5-0-2 in the Swiss, and lost in Top 4 because of the Signet disruption kept me off of Wrath mana.

As Evan mentioned, Korlash, Heir to Blackblade also had a deck erected in his honor. Bryan Upham's deck gets maximum utility out of his Dimir House Guards which can transmute for anything from singletons of Detritivore, Bottled Cloister, Persecute, and Leyline of the Void to Damnations, Korlash, Tendrils of Corruption. Personally I am really excited about testing this deck out for Northeast Regionals and would not be surprised at all if I ended up running something remarkably similar to this deck.

For those of you looking for a winning Dredge deck list, here are the lists used by Amar Dattani and Ross Silcock to qualify for the newly consolidated U.K. Nationals at a qualifier tournament in Coventry. Poking around in the Tournament Practice Casual Room on Magic Online the past few days I have seen versions similar to these winning games on turns three and four with frightening consistency.

Amar Dattani – Qualified for U.K. Nats, Dredge

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Ross Silcock – Qualified for U.K. Nats, Dredge

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The deck begins dredging early and often with a Magus or a Drowned Rusalka and hopes to get multiple Bridge from Belows, Dread Returns, and Flame-Kin Zealots in the graveyard with some Narcomoebas popped into play. The Dread Return gets flashed back sacrificing three creatures, which in turn becomes three, six, or even nine 2/2 tokens, depending on how many Bridges are in the graveyard, and a reanimated Flame-Kin gives the whole team +1/+1 and haste.

The rest of the decks from the Top 8 of this National Qualifier can be found here.

Over at a Regional tournament in Germany, Evan Erwin's beloved Tarmogoyfs were tearing off National invites left and right. In a 179-player field, Gruul was far and away the most played deck with 23 players piloting it compared to 15 dredgers. From what I can gather there were 12 players qualifying for Nationals at this tournament and only one of those players got the invite by playing Dredge. Gruul finished third but it was a Zoo update with Tarmogoyf that took fourth and fifth place. Zoogoyf has also been added to the short list of decks to test for the upcoming Regionals.

Marcel Trunk – 1st place, Solar Flare

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Dennis Dinow – Second Place, Green-White Aggro Control

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Jonas Grohmann – 3rd Place, Gruul

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