Sphinx’s Tutelage: A Majors Deck?

Posted in Event Coverage on August 9, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Going undefeated at a Grand Prix is a strong step towards Top 8. Heading into Day 2 with the best record and tiebreakers puts undefeated players on pace to claim a playoff slot first. Those that remain undefeated the longest are the leads and data points suggesting which decks are positioned well for a tournament. At the very least they’re representative of the strongest options available in a given format, right?

By that logic, No. 15-ranked Andrew Cuneo had it correct at Pro Tour Magic Origins:

Andrew Cuneo's Blue-Red Tutelage – Pro Tour Magic Origins

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What does a deck that mills out opponents – forcing them to put cards from their library into their graveyard until there's nothing left to draw – have to do with Grand Prix San Diego? Undefeated Michael Majors brought a similar deck to battle this weekend.

Michael Major's unlikely choice of deck led him to earn a coveted undefeated position at the end of Day 1 at Grand Prix San Diego.

The most obvious question was easy: Why?

“It was the only deck I had left to play,” Majors admitted. “Seth Manfield said he played against the deck five times on Magic Online and deemed it good. At first glance it looks like a Turbo Fog type deck, but in reality it's like a Legacy Delver of Secrets deck where instead of attacking with a creature you're putting an enchantment into play to put a clock on them.”

“It's definitely the best Treasure Cruise deck in Standard,” Majors continued. “Getting the ability to play tons of velocity cards – card draw – is great. At the same time you can't play a really long game against anyone. Your control elements are really light so you can't go late.”

So what's it like playing the deck? “The first couple turns are casting cards like Magmatic Insight and Tormenting Voice if you don't have Sphinx's Tutelage,” Majors explained. “The unintuitive part of the deck is that you want to pass for the first few turns of the game if you have the Tutelage since you want to save those cards for when you have it in play. Since Green-White decks depend so much on Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor, Anger of the Gods is really well-positioned against them right now. At the same time the fact they play Dromoka's Command is a problem.”

Majors was successful in his start-of-Day 2 feature match against No. 15-ranked Shahar Shenhar who played the Green-White Megamorph deck to Day 1 undefeated as well.

Majors was confident that No. 15-ranked Shahar Shenhar knew what was happening when they sat down to play in the opening feature match of Day 2. Facing off against a back-to-back World Champion, Major's knew that Shenhar would have a plan to battle. How did the best fight back? “Shenhar's goal was to both put an early amount of pressure on me and back that up with Dromoka's Command. In the post-board game he probably had more Unravel the Æthers. Basically, he wanted to just constrict the game as much as possible and force me to play an unprotected Sphinx's Tutelage.”

Protecting Sphinx's Tutelage is a Game 2 or Game 3 plan – all of the countermagic is in the sidebard for Majors. “In the first game you have no counterspells. The real strength of the deck is the critical mass of card draw spells. If you can play Alhammarret's Archive you can draw six cards off Treasure Cruise for one mana. It's an unprecedented powerful effect for Standard. It almost doesn't matter what you're doing from there.”

While earning Day 1 undefeated is a notable point, there are always more Day 1undefeated players that don't make the Top 8 of a Grand Prix than do. Is Sphinx's Tutelage the real deal for Standard? “I think it is a deck worth putting together and playing,” Majors said. “Once people become more familiar with the strategy itself and prepare for it – Disenchant effect are good against he deck – with how you play: Being aggressive enough without overextending into Anger of the Gods.”

“Also, my deck is probably misbuilt, so there's that,” he added, sharing a frustration anyone working with an off-the-radar deck can relate too.

Michael Majors – Blue-Red Tutelage

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