Games Haven Monthly $1K Series 2018

15th July 2018

Games Haven Paya Lebar

Matthew (Lightning Bolt) Yee

A brave 32 souls converged at GH Paya Lebar for July's $1K Series event to be among the first in attempting to shape a new local Standard metagame. Returning to the Core Set for the first time in 3 years, there were some doubts that the Core Set, with its historically lower power level, could shake up the format too much. At the same time, as is typical for a Core Set, the eye of scrutiny usually ends up on the mythics, and this time round in particular Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. Would Grixis be the new ground-level deck to beat? That would be the question on everyone's mind going into the weekend here, and other places with Week 1 Standard events.

The question to start with is, of course, what happened to Goblin Chainwhirler? The number of mono-red and BR Chainwhirler decks actually dropped drastically from before the release, but we feel that the drop needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. It might very well be that because of the hype surrounding Nicol Bolas, some players switched over to Grixis to feel out the deck for themselves, or made metagame calls based on the assumption that more Bolas decks would mean less Chainwhirler decks. This latter decision actually paid off for one Anointed Procession player, who came prepared to fight not-Chainwhirlers and as a result landed himself in second place!

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Back to Nicol Bolas. About a quarter of our playing field were playing Nicol Bolas in Grixis shells, although the form of those shells have yet to be set in stone. Grixis Midrange-with-counterspells was the most common shell, although there was the odd BR splash-blue-for-Bolas that still played Chainwhirlers and could power out Bolas and Glorybringers with Sarkhan, Fireblood. Both versions feel and play very differently, although time (and the Pro Tour) will definitely tell which will be the favoured build going forward. All we can say is, if you were lucky enough to open Bolas during prerelease, keeping it for your own usage is not wrong.

Of course, all the old guard were still present, with Teferi control decks and Stompy decks sprinkled across the tables here and there. Teferi remains a strong card, and the sheer power of Teferi and Search for Azcanta is able to mitigate the stumbling that control decks often do in the early weeks of a new Standard before decklists are tuned. Of course, to avoid over-dramatizing it, a lot of it was also due to the fact that the metagame isn't really vastly turned upside down in the first place, because there was no rotation.

Speaking of Teferi control decks, a notable absence from the tables was Chromium, the Mutable. Much touted to be an extremely strong finisher for the current Esper control shell, Chromium was nowhere to be found and was a virtual non-entity. He probably morphed into a human so he could run away and watch the World Cup finals, but there is also the fact that he has a more restrictive mana cost than the current win-cons of choice Teferi, Approach and The Scarab God. When your current win-cons are easier to cast and defend, there isn't much of a reason to adopt a new one. All that said though, we believe Chromium is still worth watching, but we might have to wait till Approach and The Scarab God rotate for that.

There isn't much difference in Stompy decks between pre and post-M19, except that they might have possibly gained the board-control mechanism that they were lacking that led them to splash blue or black before the Core Set release. Sarkhan's Unsealing is shaping up to be an underdog hero, letting people kill Nicol Bolas off of the back of a Steel Leaf Champion, and turning Ghalta into the awe-inspiring dramatic meteoric entrance she was supposed to be. RG Stompy also gains Regisaur Alpha to turn all of Ghalta's enemies into unrecognizable roadkill, which we got a sneak peek of during Nationals. Move over, Fatal Push, Sarkhan's Unsealing is your new Lord and Saviour. Between Sarkhan's Unsealing and Search for Azcanta, it may be worth maindecking some of those Thrashing Brontodons and Forsake the Worldly's now.

Lastly, taking advantage of a new and uncertain meta were the inevitable rogue decks (we define 'rogue' here to mean archetypes with a less defined build due to lack of attention and/or hype, not 'jank brews'). Aetherflux Reservoir artifact combo, Tezzeret the Improviser, Psychic Corrosion Mill, Mono-black Zombies, Dragon Tribal and GW Midrange were contributors to the diversity that we all crave, and made many a game entertaining to watch. Don't hold your breath, it's only Week 1. Who knows, we might be seeing one of these take down a GP somewhere, or suddenly shoot to fame once rotation comes.

Bolas still has some work to do to establish himself as the God-Pharaoh of Standard, because at the end of 5 rounds of Swiss and our Top 8, it was the old guard that clinched the top spot! After a finals match between Anointed Procession and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, it was Teferi and Koh Kai Che who clinched the top spot and won the event! Teferi control still solidly performs in Tier 1, and any Bolas devouts will have to do a bit more tweaking to burn the latest member of the Gatewatch down. Our next $1K Series event is Modern because we've just entered Modern season, but we do expect many great things on the Standard front elsewhere in these 3 months before rotation hits! See you again on Ravnica!

Top 8 Decklists

1st Place - Koh Kai Che

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
UW Control

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Didn't have time to brew a post-M19 deck so I just took whatever I had and 1 new M19

sideboard card. [Editor's note: We were requested to insert the dog face "I have no idea

what I'm doing" meme but the site doesn't play well with image inserts sadly]

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Approach of the 2nd Sun. It closes the game fast enough.

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

History of Benalia!! Performed very well for my bad matchup against UB decks.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

I should have slept more last night...

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

Nay now. Absolutely gay after rotation.

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors

 

UW Control - Main Deck

5x Island

7x Plains

2x Ipnu Rivulet

2x Field of Ruin

4x Irrigated Farmland

4x Glacial Fortress

2x Memorial to Genius

1x Torrential Gearhulk

2x Essence Scatter

2x Syncopate

1x Blink of an Eye

1x Supreme Will

4x Disallow

3x Glimmer of Genius

3x Settle the Wreckage

2x Fumigate

2x Approach of the Second Sun

4x Seal Away

2x Search for Azcanta//Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin

3x Cast Out

4x Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Sideboard

3x Negate

2x Torrential Gearhulk

2x Lyra Dawnbringer

1x Cleansing Nova

1x Gideon's Intervention

3x History of Benalia

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

1x Ixalan's Binding

1x Nezahal, Primal Tide

2nd Place - Jason Loh

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
BW Tokens ft. Marcus Oh's cards.

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Good against BR (have Anointer Priest) and Grixis Control (Spot removal is weak against

[the deck]).

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Kelvin Chew "Vampire" tokens because he suck my money and luck.

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

Anointer Priest. Embalm with 2x Anointed Procession out = 4-squared life.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

Not realizing that I should scry at end step for Hidden Stockpile to mazimise mana efficiency or upkeep to trigger Hidden Stockpile.

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. No it's Modern season, so maybe Scapeshift?

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

Yay, it's absolutely gay.

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors - Naya best shard fight me. Chainwhirler not invited.

 

BW Tokens – Main Deck

3x Swamp

4x Concealed Courtyard

4x Evolving Wilds

4x Isolated Chapel

4x Plains

4x Shefet Dunes

4x Anointer Priest

3x Regal Caracal

4x Fatal Push

4x Vraska's Contempt

3x Fumigate

3x Legion's Landing//Adanto, the First Fort

4x Hidden Stockpile

4x History of Benalia

4x Anointed Procession

4x Renegade Map

Sideboard

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

2x Arguel's Blood Fast//Temple of Aclazotz

4x Duress

4x Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

4x Doomfall

Top 4 - Randy Yeoh

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Keld Red

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Anyhow.

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Viashino Pyromancer.

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

See above.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

Land flood.

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

None.

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

Yay.

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors

 

Mono-Red Keld Aggro – Main Deck

20x Mountain

4x Bomat Courier

4x Soul-Scar Mage

4x Fanatical Firebrand

2x Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

3x Goblin Chainwhirler

4x Earthshaker Khenra

4x Viashino Pyromancer

4x Shock

4x Lightning Strike

4x Wizard's Lightning

3x The Flame of Keld

 

Sideboard

2x Magma Spray

2x Banefire

2x Fight With Fire

3x Abrade

2x Chandra's defeat

4x Ghitu Lavarunner

Top 4 - Albertus Law

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Chainwhirler splash Nicol Bolas.

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Copy it off the internet, no brewing needed.

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

Sarkhan, Fireblood. It helps me to loot away the dead cards against control.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

Mana consistency because it's 3 colours. Drawing too much dead cards against control decks.

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager. [Editor's Note - And he's playing it, all right.]

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

YAY!

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors

 

Grixis Midrange - Main Deck

3x Aether Hub

4x Canyon Slough

4x Dragonskull Summit

7x Mountain

3x Spirebluff Canal

4x Sulfur Falls

1x Swamp

4x Scrapheap Scrounger

4x Goblin Chainwhirler

4x Nicol Bolas, the Ravager//Nicol Bolas, the Arisen

4x Glorybringer

3x Magma Spray

4x Abrade

2x Cut//Ribbons

3x Sarkhan, Fireblood

3x Chandra, Torch of Defiance

3x Heart of Kiran

Sideboard

2x Walking Ballista

2x Chandra's Defeat

3x Duress

2x Jace's Defeat

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

2x Doomfall

1x Spit Flame

2x Hour of Glory

Top 8 - James Lim Jay Vin

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Grixis Bolas.

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Netdeck + replace expensive cards that I do not have enough of.

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Nicol Bolas.

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

Nicol Bolas.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

Facing mirror decks playing Nicol Bolas.

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

Nicol Bolas. Errr...... yes playing it.

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

Yay for me, absolutely gay when any opponent plays it.

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors

 

Grixis Midrange - Main Deck

4x Aether Hub

4x Canyon Slough

4x Dragonskull Summit

1x Fetid Pools

5x Mountain

4x Spirebluff Canal

4x Sulfur Falls

2x Kari Zev, Skyship Raider

4x Goblin Chainwhirler

2x Glorybringer

2x Pia Nalaar

1x Rekindling Phoenix

2x Soul-Scar Mage

2x The Scarab God

4x Scrapheap Scrounger

3x Nicol Bolas, the Ravager//Nicol Bolas, the Arisen

4x Abrade

1x Banefire

3x Magma Spray

2x Unlicensed Disintegration

2x Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Sideboard

1x Arguel's Blood Fast//Temple of Aclazotz

3x Chandra's Defeat

2x Doomfall

3x Duress

1x Hour of Glory

1x Magma Spray

2x Negate

1x Puncturing Blow

1x Supreme Will

Top 8 - Tan Wei Siong

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
UB Midrange.

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Just netdeck.

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Scarab God, duh.

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

Liliana, Death's Majesty.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

Not enough lands.

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

Yay.

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors

 

UB Midrange - Main Deck

4x Fetid Pools

4x Drowned Catacomb

4x Aether Hub

2x Field of Ruin

8x Swamp

4x Island

4x Glint-Sleeve Siphoner

4x Champion of Wits

3x The Scarab God

2x Torrential Gearhulk

1x Ravenous Chupacabra

4x Fatal Push

4x Vraska's Contempt

3x Essence Scatter

1x Cast Down

1x Commit//Memory

2x Doomfall

1x Never//Return

1x Supreme Will

2x Arguel's Blood Fast//Temple of Aclazotz

1x Liliana, Death's Majesty

Sideboard

1x Liliana, Death's Majesty

1x Gonti, Lord of Luxury

3x Negate

1x Torrential Gearhulk

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

2x Duress

1x Never//Return

1x Cast Down

1x Confiscation Coup

1x Yahenni's Expertise

2x Essence Extraction

Top 8 - Joseph Chow

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
RG Stompy.

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Was playing BG Stompy, but not doing well. M19 has some red cards which I think can

fit into the Stompy tech.

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Sarkhan's Unsealing. Cast and burn!!

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

Goreclaw. Gives Rhonas trample with +1/+1, really demands an immediate answer from the opponent.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

Was slower than BG Stompy. Lesser probability to cast Ghalta fast.

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

Runic Armasaur. Must play!!

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

Above average, has potential to be gay.

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium - he can become a human to share my sofa =)

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors

RG Stompy - Main Deck

10x Forest

4x Rootbound Crag

4x Sheltered Thicket

3x Hashep Oasis

3x Aether Hub

4x Llanowar Elves

4x Servant of the Conduit

4x Steel Leaf Champion

3x Thrashing Brontodon

2x Ripjaw Raptor

2x Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma

2x Rhonas the Indomitable

2x Regisaur Alpha

3x Ghalta, Primal Hunger

1x Banefire

2x Struggle//Survive

4x Sarkhan's Unsealing

3x Heart of Kiran

Sideboard

2x Nissa, Vital Force

1x Vivien Reid

2x Lifecrafter's Bestiary

1x Shapers' Sanctuary

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

1x Banefire

2x Prowling Serpopard

2x Vine Mare

1x Chandra's Defeat

1x Runic Armasaur

1x Carnage Tyrant

Top 8 - Daston Lam

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Jeskai.

How did you go about brewing your deck?

Kevin Jones's list with slight tweaks.

 

What would you say was the best card in your deck, and why?

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Best planeswalker, only reason to splash white for.

 

What card in your deck would you say performed unexpectedly well today, and why?

Whirler Virtuoso. Thopters good against control and acts as a chump blocker in Aggro matchups.

 

What were some of the challenges you faced while piloting this deck?

When to counter threats.

 

What is your favourite M19 card, and are you likely to play a deck that has it?

Guttersnipe (reprint). Yes.

 

Nicol Bolas, the Ravager - Yay, Nay, or Absolutely Gay?

Nay, get outta here.

 

It's time for a bonding session with the Elder Dragons! Choose one:

Sniping auctions with Nicol Bolas

Tea party with Arcades Sabboth

Watching Mediacorp dramas with Chromium

Eating contest with Vaevictis Asmadi

Violent kowpeh session with Palladia-Mors

Jeskai Control - Main Deck

4x Island

4x Mountain

4x Spirebluff Canal

4x Sulfur Falls

4x Irrigated Farmland

4x Aether Hub

2x Clifftop Retreat

3x Torrential Gearhulk

3x Whirler Virtuoso

4x Harnessed Lightning

4x Magma Spray

4x Disallow

4x Glimmer of Genius

2x Censor

2x Essence Scatter

2x Syncopate

2x Search for Azcanta

3x Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

1x Cast Out

Sideboard

2x Vizier of Many Faces

2x Abrade

2x Chandra's Defeat

2x Walking Ballista

2x Baral, Chief of Compliance

2x Negate

1x Jace's Defeat

1x Forsake the Worldly

1x Seal Away