Free Kittens, Take One!

Posted in Event Coverage on August 14, 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.

Chris Botelho has been running Demonic Pact ever since Oath of the Gatewatch. Back then, the deck focused on winning the game with damage, aided by a plethora of value from the Origins enchantment.

At GP Portland, Botelho is still running Demonic Pacts, but he's swapped everyday damage for a more unusual path to victory via Harmless Offering.

"Now Demonic Pact gets to be a huge amount of value, and your win condition, so the deck got even better," Botelho said. "And honestly, the art on Harmless Offering made me want to see if I could bust it."

Grixis Cat Pact - or Kitty Pact, as Botelho calls it - has a flexible game plan, but when facing an opponent playing an Emrakul, giving away a Demonic Pact as quickly as possible becomes a top priority. That's because an opponent who takes Botelho's turn via and Emrakul can choose the "you lose the game" mode on Demonic Pact, no matter how many other modes are left.

"That's definitely something you want to play around, because losing the game isn't great," Botelho said.

Knowing an opponent is close to casting an Emrakul can lead to some interesting plays, like Harmless Offering away a Demonic Pact that still has several available modes on it, just to avoid that particularly unfortunate situation.

Demonic Pact is far from the only enchantment in Botelho's list, which also plays Oath of Chandra and Oath of Jace, cards that most other Harmless Offering/Demonic Pact decks aren't running.

"I personally think they're extremely important because Bant is a really big match-up and the deck can't beat Dromoka's Command without them," Botelho said. "But once you have them, Dromoka's Command becomes their worst card because none of the modes on it are good. You don't run any creatures, so they're not fighting anything, and if they want me to sacrifice an Oath of Chandra, I'm okay with that, I don't need it anymore."

In addition to the Oaths shoring up the Bant match-up, Botelho's weekend run has been aided by the element of surprise. Botelho has found that most players are unprepared for the match-up, and it's proven to be a big boon.

The lack of familiarity, however, doesn't prevent a few key sideboard cards meant for decks like U/R Fevered Burn from being good against Cat Pact. Some players are packing either Summary Dismissal or Orbs of Warding in their sideboards, both of which can seriously hamper Botelho's game plan.

If a player is forced to choose the final "you lose the game" mode on a Demonic Pact, they can then use Summary Dismissal to counter the trigger. Because the mode of "you lose the game" has been chosen, they don't need to worry about it on subsequent upkeeps.

Orbs of Warding is an even bigger stumbling block, as it turns off the discard mode on Demonic Pact entirely, shortening the number of turns the Cat Pact player has to answer their own enchantment. It also, of course, prevents the Cat Pact player from winning the game by giving their Demonic Pact away.

The deck can still fight through these obstacles to win with an aptly named Liliana, the Last Hope, though by Botelho's count he's only won two games that way this weekend.

Botelho has enjoyed playing the deck this weekend and is still learning some of its more intricate decision points.

"I think it's a deck that requires a lot of practice, because there are loose hands you can keep, and bad hands you can keep, but it also mulligans well. Figuring out what I'm supposed to mulligan, and what I can afford to mulligan and what match-ups to do it in has been the biggest thing."

Chris Botelho

Botelho's enjoying making not-so-harmless offerings at GP, and hopes to see more people doing the same in the coming weeks.

"I would love to see more people playing this deck. I think it's incredibly fun and awesome that Magic gets to have a deck that goes around the usual way of how the game's played, and in Standard no less."

Chris Botelho's Grixis Cat Pact - GP Portland, Top 8

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