At the beginning of the day I picked two players, Neil Rigby and Pascal Maynard , and covered their deck construction. Normally with these deck construction articles, they're done and dusted, and the only way to see how the players did is to check their record. I wanted to change this and get feedback from the players at the end of the day. The deck building process involves a fair degree of theory (often backed up with a lot of preparation). It's only in the tournament rounds where the theory is put to test.
Unfortunately, my initial impression that Pascal Maynard's sealed pool might be weak ended up being right after all. I caught up with him after Round 7 and it hadn't gone well for him as he'd followed his three byes with an unexceptional 1-3 record that, while still leaving him live for Day 2, put him out of contention for Top 8.
He told me the deck had turned out a lot weaker than he'd initially thought. The lack of Vehicles and a poor top end meant he often found himself getting overpowered by his opponent's greater quality threats. Fliers had also proven to be a significant headache. On top of that his one good rare, Key to the City, had proven rather shy and spent most of the games hidden in the depths of his deck.
Realizing he needed to change things up to try and turn things around he spent some time tinkering and came up with a post-sideboard rebuild that he “never would have been able to identify during deck construction”. This involved going fully three-color aggro (still Jund) and dropping the curve right down to top out at around three mana.
The changes seemed to help as Maynard was able to stem the bleeding and scrape through to Day 2 with a 6-3 record. Top 8 and a GP title might be out of reach this weekend, but there are still Pro Points up for grabs.
In contrast, Neil Rigby had a much happier day. His pool gave him a tough choice between four colors of comparable strength. He plumped for the more aggressive red-green option and it served him well as he ended the day with a solid 8-1 record.
I talked to him in more detail after he picked up a win in Round 9.
First off, that Larger Than Life.
“It was really good. It being a sorcery doesn't matter because it gives trample.”
Uh uh. I think about all the newbie players I told not to even consider putting that card in their decks back at the prerelease and feel a little guilty. To be fair, no-one should listen to Limited advice from me ever.
Rigby did say it didn't go in all decks. His had just the right amount of aggression to make Larger Than Life a viable option.
As for that aggression…
“My opponents didn't realize they were in a race.”
Spontaneous Artist followed by Maulfist Doorbuster is a scary combination that negates a blocker and does a heck of a lot of damage out of nowhere. Lathnu [autocard]Hellion[/autocard] also fits that theme. In isolation it's a card that nips in for a hasty four damage, smashes in for another four damage, and then dies through lack of energy. In Limited these cards are normally bad as an opponent is usually happy to trade some life to see a card go away without them having to do anything about it. And that worked in Rigby's favor multiple times. Often opponents would take the damage thinking the Hellion would go away and then another energy creature would show up to keep the Hellion around for future hits.
And then there is the hype train, Renegade Freighter.
“This card is just so good.”
Rigby was happy with the build he'd found.
“They play their powerful rare and are forced to block with it and then lose it to a combat trick.”
The only thing he would have changed is to switch the Cathartic Reunion for Renegade Tactics. Taking a blocker out of combat for a turn and drawing a card is a much better fit for the aggressive nature of the deck.
His one loss was to Andreas Ganz in Round 5. Rigby said Ganz had enough high toughness creatures to slow his assault and take the game long. While a plain mana screw took him out in the second game he said he thought he missed an opportunity to sideboard into a different strategy.
“Because he had the stuff to stop me I should have boarded into blue and used the Aethersquall Ancient engine. That would have been better as the game was likely to go long.”
That blip aside, Rigby went into Day 2 with an 8-1 record and still very much in contention.