An Equal and Opposite Reaction

Posted in Event Coverage on August 13, 2016

By Meghan Wolff

Meghan is one half of the Good Luck High Five podcast and an adjunct professor at Tolarian Community College. She loves Limited, likes Modern, and dips her toes into each Standard season. She's decidedly blue and is the #1 hater of Siege Rhino in the Multiverse.

Pro Tour Eldritch Moon showed us a suite of decks that used their graveyards to power explosive plays. From casting an early Emrakul to bringing back a host of Prized Amalgams, players found ways to make delirium a game-changing tool.

But for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction, and if some players are trying to take advantage of delirium there must be players finding a way to stop them. This weekend that counteraction takes the shape of a set of sideboard cards that fit neatly into a decidedly non-delirium strategy - Bant Collected Company.

Andrew Brown, who made the top eight in Sydney with Temur Emerge, swapped sides for GP Portland and is playing Bant Collected Company with Day's Undoing in the sideboard.

"It's an excellent tool for beating the Emrakul-style decks that try and fill up their graveyard with a bunch of different types and cast her way ahead of schedule," Brown said. "You establish some sort of board, while they might be goofing around with Vessel of Nascency or Pilgrim's Eye, and then you play Day's Undoing after you have two creatures. They have no graveyard, all they have is lands, and if their main win condition is Emrakul, that's going to cost them thirteen, rather than seven or eight. It's a really good way to prevent your opponent from turbo-Emrakul-ing you while refueling your hand."

Brown wasn't content to merely rob his opponents of delirium, however. His deck also brings in Elder Deep-Fiends from the sideboard. Against Emrakul decks, the Deep-Fiend can tap down much-needed lands. Brown also brings the card in against other Bant decks, where it serves a similar purpose to Subjugator Angel, tapping down creatures during giant board stalls.

Andrew Brown

"I kind of have a love affair with that card, Brown said. "It's excellent."

And if his opponent should cast an Emrakul in spite of all Brown's preventative measures, he also has a Sigarda, Host of Herons they'll have to contend with. Sigarda gives her controller hexproof, negating Emrakul's Mindslaver ability. At that point it's a simple case of dealing with the 13/13 flier with a Reflector Mage or Declaration in Stone.

"In an open field like a Grand Prix, I would rather be trying to kill my opponent as fast as I can and capitalize on their mistakes if they make any," Brown said. "That's an elegant way of saying man, I really hope they mess up."

Gerry Thompson is also playing two Day's Undoing in his sideboard. He started out the week piloting Emrakul decks, but found that all of his opponents were ready for the flying monstrosity.

"I played against someone playing Bant Company, and that was the inspiration," Thompson said. "It was the turn before I set up an Emrakul or a Kozilek's Return, and they cast Day's Undoing with a couple creatures in play, and that was just it. I'm already behind, the deck doesn't have much removal, and I was spending my early game setting up, and then he undid all my hard work. I was five turns behind. So I was like, that's pretty sweet, I'm going to do that."

"I'm playing Bant Company, which is kind of boring," he said. "But since I have the spice it's okay."

On the other side of the battlefield, however, the players relying on their graveyards aren't too intimidated by the prospect of having their day undone.

"I'm not too worried about it," says Brian Braun-Duin, who's playing Black-Green Delirium. "It definitely messes with delirium, but it's something I can play around if I need to."

He agrees that the best card against delirium this weekend is Day's Undoing, but appreciates the boon of drawing seven cards that comes along with the drawback of having his graveyard shuffled away.

"If I draw a fresh seven there's a good chance I'm going to have a Vessel or a Grapple or something to get delirium again off those seven cards. It certainly puts me back a little bit, but I don't think it's the end of the world," he said while piloting a deck with the Promised End in it.

Gerry Thompson

Mark Jacobson, also piloting Black-Green Delirium, agrees. "I'm not that worried," he said. "The deck does have a lot of proactive cards that don't even rely on delirium. A lot of times post-board you have a discard package as well, so you can play around their spell entirely, or take it with a Duress or Transgress the Mind."

Justin Cohen, who's playing a four-color dredge-style deck this weekend, is worried about another card that some decks already have in their primary sixty cards.

"I'm worried about Kalitas, because it's an inherently good card and it's great against us," Cohen said. "I'm not worried about people going deep. You do powerful things with your graveyard, but you don't need to use your graveyard a lot. The cards they have to play to do that aren't that good, nor are they conducive to their strategies. They're going out of their way to have a chance, rather than bringing in something backbreaking."

While the two sides of the battlefield can't come to an agreement on the edge (or lack of edge) that anti-delirium cards grant, the Grand Prix is a crucible that will test the strategies players bring to the table. At the end of day two only one deck, and one strategy, will triumph - and perhaps give insight into whether we should all be getting a little delirious, or fighting it.

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