Deck Tech: W/R Blood Moon Walkers with John Pellman

Posted in Event Coverage on August 28, 2016

By Frank Karsten

"I just like to eliminate my opponent's ability to play Magic."

—John Pellman.

Yesterday, John Pellman went 8-1 with a Modern deck that may not be a lot of fun to play against, but that will certainly keep creature decks and/or ambitious mana bases in check.

The 28-year old mortgage officer from Kentucky has a good track record when it comes to Modern events in Indianapolis. Earlier this year, Pellman made the Top 8 of the StarcityGames Open with an initial build of his red-white hate-filled control deck. This weekend, he has updated his list and is hoping to take it to another Top 8 in Indianapolis, now at a Grand Prix.

John Pellman's W/R Blood Moon Walkers – Grand Prix Indianapolis 2016

"A typical draw has 1-2 pieces of hate so you can lock them out of the game," Pellman explained. "Death's Shadow Zoo, for example, can't beat a Chalice of the Void for 1. And Blood Moon is so good right now—it hurts many different decks. Leyline of Sanctity is always a surprise when it comes down on turn 1, but it's great against Burn and against Jund's hand disruption."

Thanks to Simian Spirit Guide, the hate cards could all come out as early as turn one. Although Chalice of the Void may be better on zero or on two against certain decks, Pellman recommended to always go turn-1 Chalice in the dark in Game 1 if you can.

The surprise factor has been on Pellman's side this weekend, as many of his opponents didn't fetch for basics in Game 1. "The deck is better in bigger tournaments, where Blood Moon is more of a surprise," he said. "In smaller shops, I wouldn't advise playing the deck because everyone will know to fetch for basics." Meanwhile, with 12 basic Plains in his deck, Pellman is never harmed much by his own Blood Moon.

After you've made sure that your opponent cannot cast or resolve any spells, you need to deal with any creatures already on the battlefield. For that purpose, Pellman's deck has 6 maindeck board wipes. No creature is safe!

Alongside the sweepers, his deck contains several spot removal spells, including a new addition from Eldritch Moon: Blessed Alliance. "It can punish Affinity for going all-in on one big creature, force Bogles to sacrifice their only creature, or gain 4 life versus Burn," Pellman explained. That's a lot of versatility for a single card.

Eventually, Pellman aims to win with planeswalkers: "Simian Spirit Guide has gotten there once, and the sideboard has a few creatures, but the planeswalkers are my main win condition."

The standout planeswalker, which is arguably the card that made the deck possible, is Nahiri, the Harbinger. "Nahiri makes the deck so much better," Pellman explained. "She's so versatile: removal, filtering, and a quicker win condition with Emrakul."

The sideboard, besides the usual suspects of Stony Silence and Rest in Peace, has several surprises as well. I love Sudden Shock in response to a Might of Old Krosa on a Glistener Elf, and Zealous Conscripts may also catch opponents off-guard. "I've taken Karn Liberated and restarted the game, and I've stolen Nahiri to get my own Emrakul," Pellman said with a smile.

Positioning in the metagame

According to Pellman, good matchups of the deck include Burn, Infect, Bogles, and pretty much any other creature deck. Thanks to his removal suite and hate cards, his deck is well-prepared for a metagame filled with aggro decks.

Bad matchups include decks like Jeskai Nahiri, Merfolk, and R/G Tron. Fortunately for Pellman, however, those decks are not as popular at the top tables right now. This means that the metagame may be in a perfect position for his deck to succeed, and it may be a strong contender going forward.

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