The Deck Came from a Man Down Under

Posted in Event Coverage on August 6, 2016

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

"Should I play the safe deck, or the sweet deck?" Martin Jůza clearly likes to live dangerously, because that's never a question you should put to someone on the coverage team. Sweet deck, every time.

"Yeah, Dan Unwin messaged me earlier this week out of nowhere and the first thing he said was 'I broke it.' And I was like 'Hello to you too, long time no see?!'"

You see, as far as Magic is concerned, nobody's really heard from Unwin for a while. I get Facebook updates about what he's up to from time to time, of course, but the once-formidable Australian deck building giant—known for designing practically every deck an Australian has used to do well at any given Pro Tour—has all but disappeared.

Then my phone screen lit up: Daniel Unwin—"Call me if you want to talk about the deck."

As an old hand myself in the Australia/New Zealand Magic scene, Unwin and I go way back. I was there as he repeatedly came in 9th place to be one of the best Australian players without a Top 8, and I was there when he finally crossed the threshold (he has four Grand Prix Top 8s now). I was there as almost every high Australian Magic finish (Australian National Team 2nd place at Worlds 2010, Jeremy Neeman Top 8 at Pro Tour San Juan 2010) was fuelled by decks designed by Unwin. Sadly, I was also there when he and Neeman decided to focus more on schooling than competitive Magic.

So naturally, I picked up the phone.

Unwin had found himself with time on his hands and had decided to dip his toe back into Magic Online. "I tried Bant Company in the previous format, but I hated it. And when Eldritch Moon came out, there were all of these exciting new cards to try out and I was hooked.

"I was playing Temur Emerge initially, but started to see that around the leagues quite a bit. I ran into a Blue-Black Zombies deck, and that gave me the idea to try Prized Amalgam along with the Traverse the Ulvenwald-Grapple with the Past engine. It worked so well, I decided to start reaching out to players playing at the Pro Tour this weekend. I even considered dropping from a league at 4-0 to prevent the deck from getting known," Unwin laughed.

Unwin sent his deck out to players in both Cabin Crew and MTG Mint Card. Some players were wary of a new deck at such a late stage, but others gladly sleeved up their Prized Amalgams before heading to the venue. Cabin Crewers heading into Day Two with variations on Unwin's list were Grzegorz Kowalski, Bartlomiej Lewandowski, and Maciej Janik, while David Mines and Jason Chung were among the handful from Team MTG Mint Card making a splash on the second day.

Meanwhile, Japanese superstar Akira Asahara had discovered a similar version of the deck and demolished a local tournament with it last weekend. He apparently only lost a single game that day, and that was a procedural loss for a deck registration error. This inspired several Japanese players to try and tune the list for this weekend, with Yuuki Ichikawa leading the way and Masashi Oiso playing a similar build without Amalgams.

From right: Martin Jůza may have chickened out of playing it, but Maciej Janik, Grzegorz Kowalski, and Bartlomiej Lewandowski are all representing Unwin's deck on Day Two.

Many players playing graveyard strategies have been embracing the power of Emrakul, the Promised End this weekend, but this deck is not interested in the colossal Eldrazi. I asked Unwin why.

"The Temur Emerge decks I had been playing definitely had Emrakul, but when I made this deck I found I never wanted to actually play out too many lands so I could instead feed them to Haunted Dead. This deck only has four different card types anyway, so it's not like casting her was really an option. I had one in the sideboard at first, but it became Decimator of the Provinces instead."

David Mines had similar thoughts on the matter.

"You'd never cast Emrakul, and you beat opposing Emrakuls by being faster than them and tapping them down with Elder Deep-Fiend on key turns. Transgress the Mind out of the sideboard helps, but they can still draw Traverse the Ulvenwald for it. Emrakul is definitely very beatable, though."

Jason Chung's Four-Color Emerge

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