Posted in GRAND PRIX DENVER 2015 - WELCOME on January 4, 2015

By Marc Calderaro

Right now former Rookie of the Year Matthias Hunt is sitting at 6-0 with a fairly unlikely deck. I saw "fairly" because people have certainly tried to tame the Chromanticore before. But like Excalibur from the stone, perhaps it took someone like Hunt to unleash it upon the world. How did he do it? Simple: "Well, it's not really a Chromanticore deck. In fact, I hate that this is going to be known as a Chromanticore deck. It's basically a Siege Rhino deck with four Dig Through Time." When you consider your deck a mix of two of the best cards in Standard, you're probably on the right track.

But too bad, Matthias, too bad. You mess with the 'core, you get the horns. I watched a game against White-Blue Heroic that went: Courser of Kruphix, Bile Blight, Utter End, Sultai Charm, then bestow Chromanticore on the Courser, earning the scoop. The crowd goes wild; a Chromanticore deck it is.

The deck started on the plane home from a StarCityGames event. "I saw so many Sidisi Whip mirrors, I wanted to figure out how to beat that deck." He started playing around and developed some theoretical shells, but there was a problem—it included Siege Rhino. "And if you know me at all, you know I hate Siege Rhino. I like unfair Magic, and Rhino is the definition of 'fair Magic'." He continued, "But if I was going to go over to the dark side, how could I get it right? What if I played four Dig Through Time? Can I do that?" Apparently he did.

The Spread

What this created was a deck that trades one-for-one with Abzan Midrange, but when both players are out of gas, "I just play Dig." So he plays the Sylvan Caryatid-Courser of Kruphix package ("the best thing to do in Standard," he added), and after that it was pretty elementary.

The manabase is where the deck really shows the greed train Matthias is on. "I have 10 tri-lands, 3 Mana Confluence, an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and the rest are pains and Temples—because no one's really punishing me for not playing anything on turn one or two." Though the base looks crazy, there's a method. Because that method avers an entire piece itself, I'll leave it at the fact that there are 71 colored mana symbols in the deck, and Hunt had to figure out how to get all those 71 pips represented among his lands.

Hunt, waiting to destroy

"It's really a concession to play the white pain lands that I do, but in the match-ups when you need to cast Siege Rhino on time, I need to cast him on time." He said, "If I have to wait a turn to cast Dig, I can do that. Not with Rhino." Because there is some semblance of aggressive strategies going around. But that's not what Hunt wants to do. "I would really love to play a slugfest with everyone."

Harkening back to the days of Lorwyn Standard, he said, "I could probably cast Cloudthresher and Cruel Ultimatum in this deck." A vivid reminder of a time gone by, Hunt's playing Dig Through Time, Crackling Doom, and Hornet Queen all in the same deck. "None of those share any mana symbols," he added.

And one of the best reasons to play five colors is for the sideboard. Because the five colors allow you have the greatest sideboard standard can offer, Hunt said, "You tend to play bet-hedging cards in the maindeck—like Sultai Charm. It kind of does everything; not particularly well, but it can do whatever you need it to." For example, he plays one Prognostic Sphinx main deck. Not because he thinks it's particularly good, but because he's actually threat-light, he wants a way to beat a black deck that runs endless one-for-one removal. So a lot of the Game 1s are weaker, but significantly change in the post-board games. "Games 2 and 3 are very good; the world is my oyster." Some matches become nigh-unloseable, but still, some don't—nothing's perfect.

His nightmare matches are Blue-Black Control, Abzan Aggro, and White-Red Tokens. "No thanks. And I really hope there're no Mono-Red decks that are undefeated. That would be very bad for me." (Spoiler Alert: There is at least one.) "Blue-Black Control is miserable Game 1—like, 25%. It goes up to 50-60% in Games 2 and 3, but that isn't really good enough." He continued, "I mean, I'll throw the kitchen sink at them in the sideboard, but there's only so much I can do."

On the decks "centerpiece, Hunt says, "Chromanticore's actually not that great. There are a lot of common cards that just wreck him." He said, "I often side them out to add two cards that are particularly good in the matchup. Which works well, because if you have Erases, you're sideboarding in all of your Erases. Without the Chromanticores, that card does very little against my deck."

The Prettiest Sight in the World

But still, the overall cool factor of the five-color beatstick cannot be denied. Though Hunt downplays the card, he understands its appeal. He said of how other see the deck, "If you ever get Chromanticore on the Prognostic Sphinx, oh man. Giving him hexproof is just too 'cool'." He says that like it's a problem. Well, it's not.

All Matthias Hunt needs is one more win to secure a Day 2 berth—this early in the tournament, that's an accomplishment. All he has to do is avoid red. "I literally cannot be red." Let that be a fair warning to all of you if this deck does do well this weekend.