Posted in GRAND PRIX STOCKHOLM 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 26, 2014

By Frank Karsten

Most players at Grand Prix Stockholm opted for more traditional strategies, but Jan van der Vegt brought a spicy one to the table: U/W Heroic! Or "Falcon Punch!" as he calls it, in reference to the singleton Abzan Falconer that can push heroic creatures through a creature stall.

Jan van der Vegt is feeling heroic.

For reference, here's his list:

U/W Heroic – Jan van der Vegt, Grand Prix Stockholm 2014

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To learn more about the deck, I sat down with Jan, whose record overnight was 7-2, and asked him to explain what makes the deck tick.

How was the deck conceived and built – who else was involved?

"Daan Pruijt saw a couple of lists on Magic Online and figured that it would be a good idea in a format where all the non-situational removal spells are three mana, so you can tempo them out with Gods Willing and Feat of Resistance," Jan explained. "He started testing it, did really well on Magic Online, and then I started testing together with him."

What is the game plan of this deck?

"Get a big guy out there; protect it; kill opponent," Jan answered. "The deck looks like an aggro deck, but it's really more of a combo deck. It's effectively a 3-card combo: a heroic creature, a way to pump it, and a protection spell."

Your deck looks like an update of a Theros Block Constructed deck. What are the additions from Khans of Tarkir ?

"The key additions are Defiant Strike, Feat of Resistance, and Flooded Strand. Defiant Strike is a good way to put the first +1/+1 counter on a heroic creature so that the Ordeals can trigger right away after that. Feat of Resistance trades for a removal spell that typically costs more mana, and it's better than Ajani's Presence because it can stop cards like Abzan Charm and Jeskai Charm. Flooded Strand may be the most important addition because it fixes the mana."

Many Block Constructed versions had Stratus Walk and Fabled Hero. Why did you cut those cards?

"Stratus Walk is good if you have Hero of Iroas, but if not, then it's very expensive for a card that you can get blown out with if they have a removal spell. Every mana that you can spare is really important, especially in the early turns of the game. Fabled Hero was cut for the same reason: you don't want expensive cards that Lightning Strike and Bile Blight can easily take out. I prefer Lagonna-Band Trailblazer in that slot."

What are the good and bad matchups for the deck?

"Jeskai and Abzan are good matchups. Mono-red and Green Devotion are even better. The bad matchup is Mardu because Crackling Doom is really good against me. Stubborn Denial from the sideboard helps a bit, but I'm still not favored."

Can you explain some of your sideboard choices and how you sideboard against the top decks?

"Against Abzan, it really depends on what cards you expect from them. Lagonna-Band Trailblazer is good against Bile Blight; Stubborn Denial is good versus End Hostilities; and Suspension Field is an answer to Siege Rhino. They generally board in a lot of extra removal, so I tend to take out a couple of Aqueous Form and maybe Abzan Falconer."

"Against Jeskai, it also depends on the version. But most of the time, I put in Lagonna-Band Trailblazer; Brimaz, King of Oreskos; and Glare of Heresy. I cut 4 Aqueous Form because after sideboard, it becomes less about blocking and more about removal."

Q: How many other people are playing this deck, and how are they faring?

"Three Dutchmen played the deck: Daan Pruijt, Cedric van Oene, and myself. Cedric went 3-6, Daan went 6-2-1, and I went 7-2."

What are some interesting plays that we might not see right away picking up this deck?

"These may be relatively obvious, but you can use Defiant Strike to counter Stoke the Flames on Favored Hoplite, and you can use a protection spell as a Falter."

If you've been looking for a powerful aggro/combo deck in Standard, then give this deck a spin!