Games Haven Monthly $1K Series 2018

7th October 2018

Games Haven Paya Lebar

Matthew (Lightning Bolt) Yee

The Guilds of Ravnica release seems to have been much more exciting than the couple of sets before it, because we got 43 players on Sunday eager to fight for their guild (and the cash bounty), which is the highest number we have gotten for a new-set-Standard-1K-event since we started. Would the third time on Ravnica be the charm? Would we get memorable Standards worthy of Ravnica 1 and Ravnica 2: The Sequel? Well, it's kind of hard to say, but based on what we saw on Sunday, it does look like there are plenty of options to explore in the nascent post-rotation Standard format.

First things first - Aggro. Like it or not, aggro decks in week 1 of Standard always enjoy a lot more success than in any other week of Standard. For those who are a bit newer to the metagame development dynamic, this is because a hyper-aggro strategy is proactive, and changes very little in philosophy between sets. While the rest of the field is still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't for their combo ideas and value midrange strategies, aggro throws lightning at people's faces. Another key reason for this is because hyper-aggro is more often than not mono-coloured, which means that they don't need to worry as much about tweaking landbases. In turn, this means that nothing punishes a bad draw of an unoptimised deck as well as hyper-aggro.

In the context of the GRN metagame, this means mono-red, and it is every bit as painful as it was since The Flame of Keld was ignited. Many players turned to mono-red, having read articles and seen the pros/popular personalities wax poetic on two cards in particular - Experimental Frenzy and Risk Factor. Let us get one thing straight, both cards are extremely fittingly named. Experimental Frenzy does a very good job of letting you go crazy off the top of your library, stopping you only (as you might expect) when you hit a Mountain. A pseudo-draw source that fits the top curve of an aggro deck to a T, this is definitely a card to watch for the new aggro base build. On its heels comes the card with quite possibly the most varied and passionate evaluations since Sin Prodder, Risk Factor. Cards that give your opponent a choice have always gotten a bad rep for adding unnecessary variance to a game where you want to feel like you're in control, but for this deck in particular, it might be worth the risk factor. At instant speed and a built-in flashback you can throw your extra Mountains to, your opponent can only say "Take 4" so many times. And we all know what happens when opponents are unable to say "Take 4"......

That's right, kids. Lightning Strike.

But we all know that not everyone likes aggro, so what about the other side of the spectrum where the control decks are at? As alluded to above, control builds usually take a while to get optimised because as a reactive archetype, they naturally need to know what they are responding to. However, of course, by paying attention to the local chatter and making a few educated guesses of their own, they can usually try to predict what's coming. Furthermore, sometimes, the control cards available are just so powerful on their own that they can carry the deck even when it stumbles. We speak, of course, of Teferi. Jeskai Control was the most common control variant being tried out on Sunday, with Captain Teferi and First Mate Ral juggling board states as well as they possibly could. A shoutout goes to Koh Kai Che, who even managed to get Ral's emblem for dramatic effect in the very first round, turning Opt into the start of lethal chain lightning. A woefully underrated card (for now) is Justice Strike, for a world where one-drops like Pelt Collector can't be killed by Lightning Strike if you draw it too late. Also, it's the most hilarious card name in recent memory.

Other colour combinations were also attempted, although they did not enjoy the success of their Justice variant. Dimir and Esper were attempted for a form of proactive control where surveil cards were used to try and get a discard engine going with Disinformation Campaign. Tack on a finisher like Doom Whisperer into the mix, and you strip your opponents of their resources and their life. There was a single attempt at Sultai Control, which was done to enable Assassin's Trophy in what was basically Removal Spell: The Deck. Sadly, while a valiant effort, it probably needs a Version 2 to enjoy more success.

Speaking of Assassin's Trophy, you might be interested to know what happened to the other hyped cards of the set. Nullhide Ferox, Pelt Collector and Assassin's Trophy put up disappointing numbers at the event, although privately this writer thinks that that was more because people overprepared to fight them instead. That's not to say that they weren't there, but the Stompy decks were under-represented for sure, and we might need a Pro Tour or SCG Open to find a build that can truly interest the local crowd.

To fill the void caused by the lack of expected Stompy decks were two "army" decks that couldn't be any more different - Boros and Selesnya. The Selesnya Conclave put up a pretty good fight, with Knight of Autumn doing everything that was hyped about it (re: maindeck kill Search for Azcanta, maindeck negates 1 Risk Factor and makes opponent 'discard' Lightning Strike). The Boros decks on the other hand were strictly regimented platoons of multiple flavours. We had low-to-the-ground swarm decks with just enough Mentors to make everyone hit hard enough, and more high-flying commander decks of the legion with numbers of angels that have not been seen since Avacyn Restored.

This writeup has turned out to be a little longer than the usual one, but this writer thinks that that is a testament to the pulling power of Ravnica and until the pros do their usual dance, the format looks promisingly wide, and there should be a great variety of options to explore until the next banning meme comes along.

Amidst all this variety, it was one who walked the path of heaven who found victory. Ng Yang Theng received angelic blessings and led the Boros Legion to victory! Many congratulations to Boros Commander Yang Theng and all the rest of our Top 8!!

Top 8 Decklists

1st Place - Ng Yang Theng

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Boros Angels

 

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

Lyra Dawnbringer. Gives all other angels lifelink and makes aggro decks cry into

a frenzy. [Editor's Note - AN EXPERIMENTAL FRENZY??]

 

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

Deafening Clarion. It's never a dead card, if my red opponent [has] no creatures, I gain 

life and he cry into a frenzy. [Editor's Note - We see what you're doing.]

 

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

Lots of dead cards versus control. Not much sideboard options too in Boros colours. Really miss Chandra, Torch of Defiance.

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

Getting time-walked 10 to 20 times in my first round.

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Creeping Chill. So good in Dredge, just need to deal 8 damage to opponent, easier than Infect sia.

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

Trophy for being the most expensive GRN card only.

 

Boros Legion Angel Chapter - Main Deck

6x Mountain

11x Plains

4x Clifftop Retreat

4x Sacred Foundry

4x Knight of Grace

4x Resplendent Angel

3x Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

2x Shalai, Voice of Plenty

2x Rekindling Phoenix

4x Lyra Dawnbringer

1x Bounty Agent

3x Shivan Fire

4x Justice Strike

2x Deafening Clarion

4x History of Benalia

2x Ixalan's Binding

Sideboard

3x Banefire

2x Dawn of Hope

2x Deafening Clarion

1x Ixalan's Binding

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

1x Huatli, Warrior Poet

2x Lava Coil

2x Seal Away

1x Citywide Bust

2nd Place - Daniel Zhang

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Mono Red

 

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

Risk Factor, is so good as [it is] 3 mana for 4 damage or 3 cards

 

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

Negate and Syncopate, did not side in at all 

 

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

Not enough lands.

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

N/A

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Izzet cards, just like to play control cards.

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

Yes.

 

Mono-Red Aggro – Main Deck

22x Mountain

4x Fanatical Firebrand

4x Ghitu Lavamancer

4x Runaway Steam-Kin

4x Viashino Pyromancer

4x Goblin Chainwhirler

4x Lightning Strike

4x Shock

3x Wizard's Lightning

4x Risk Factor

3x Experimental Frenzy

Sideboard

3x Fight with Fire

3x Lava Coil

2x Fiery Cannonade

4x Island

1x Negate

2x Syncopate

Top 4 - Jason Loh

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Venom1's Mono Red. Props to Joseph Tan for loaning me the deck.

 

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

Kelvin Chew Platinum Pro 2017-2018 token, don't know if will reprint or not.

Honorary 2nd place to Risk Factor.

 

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

Mountain. Flooding with this iteration of mono red isn't as bad as traditional mono red.

 

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

Never draw lands in starting hand + Chew topdeck Doom Whisperer into Wildgrowth Walker.

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

I kicked a Fight with Fire with Settle the Wreckage mana!!

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Centaur that gives each player 4 life. 4 life! Ge bu.

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

No lah sui card, buy more Doom Whisperers for song very good.

 

Mono-Red Aggro – Main Deck

20x Mountain

4x Fanatical Firebrand

4x Ghitu Lavarunner

4x Goblin Chainwhirler

4x Runaway Steam-Kin

4x Viashino Pyromancer

4x Lightning Strike

4x Risk Factor

4x Shock

4x Wizard's Lightning

4x The Flame of Keld

 

Sideboard

1x Mountain

1x Experimental Frenzy

4x Fight with Fire

4x Lava Coil

3x Rekindling Phoenix

2x Vance's Blasting Cannons//Spitfire Bastion

Top 4 - Lim Ming Han Sidney Reuben

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
UWR Control

 

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

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

 

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

Mission Briefing, it saved me plenty of times today.

 

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

The mana.

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

Jereme Mah mentioned how Mission Briefing could be used to fix the cards you're about to draw early in the game. I did that when I was land light to dig into lands.

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Niv-Mizzet, Parun. Whenever I got it out, it pretty much closed the game.

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

No comment.

 

Jeskai Control - Main Deck

4x Steam Vents

4x Sacred Foundry

1x Sulfur Falls

4x Glacial Fortress

1x Field of Ruin

1x Evolving Wilds

6x Island

4x Plains

1x Mountain

2x Mission Briefing

3x Chemister's Insight

1x Syncopate

2x Essence Scatter

1x Negate

4x Sinister Sabotage

1x Devious Cover-Up

3x Justice Strike

2x Deafening Clarion

3x Settle the Wreckage

2x Cleansing Nova

2x Blink of an Eye

1x Ral, Izzet Viceroy

3x Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

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

2x Seal Away

Sideboard

1x Sorcerous Spyglass

2x Negate

1x Niv-Mizzet, Parun

2x Lyra Dawnbringer

4x History of Benalia

1x Cleansing Nova

1x Deafening Clarion

3x Shield Mare

Top 8 - Maxwell Li

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Boros Mentor

 

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

Aurelia. Break the board symmetry for the win.

 

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

Conclave Tribunal. Answers everything and casting using convoke is very efficient.

 

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

A timely Goblin Chainwhirler sets my board back a lot.

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

No leh. Maybe the red deck's Experimental Frenzy, playing off the top deck with loads of mana - playing 6 spells a turn.

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Aurelia. 4cmc 5 toughness and pumping other creatures is very good.

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

No. Very few copies seen this tournament.

Boros Legion Token Chapter - Main Deck

4x Sacred Foundry

4x Clifftop Retreat

4x Unclaimed Territory

6x Mountain

4x Plains

4x Goblin Banneret

3x Haazda Marshall

4x Boros Challenger

4x Goblin Instigator

4x Legion Warboss

1x Tajic, Legion's Edge

3x Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice

4x Lightning Strike

2x Integrity//Intervention

2x Lava Coil

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

4x Conclave Tribunal

Sideboard

2x Dawn of Hope

2x Cosmotronic Wave

3x Shock

3x Fight with Fire

2x Banefire

3x Make a Stand

Top 8 - Kelvin Chew

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
Golgari Combo

 

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

Find//Finality

 

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

Find//FInality, helps me get my win condition.

 

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

Never drawing my Doom Whisperer.

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

Creating 20 Insects with Izoni.

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Doom Whisperer.

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

No. =(

 

BG Secret Combo - DECKLIST WITHHELD BY REQUEST FOR PRO TOUR REASONS.

Top 8 - Alson Soh

Top 8 Profile

What deck did you play today?
G/W Karn.

 

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

March of the Multitudes.

 

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

Huatli, Radiant Champion.

 

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

Drawing too many O-rings instead of creatures.

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

Opponent's end step cast Chance for Glory into follow-up Resurgence. Dead.

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Knight of Autumn. Because the card reveal made my boss smile. [Editors Note: Awwwwww...]

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

Trade token for basic. Of course!

Selesnya Tokens ft. Karn - Main Deck

4x Sunpetal Grove

4x Temple Garden

3x Forest

12x Plains

3x Shanna, Sisay's Legacy

4x Knight of Grace

3x Emmara, Soul of the Accord

4x Knight of Autumn

2x Trostani Discordant

3x March of the Multitudes

3x Seal Away

3x Conclave Tribunal

1x Ixalan's Binding

4x History of Benalia

2x Karn, Scion of Urza

2x Huatli, Radiant Champion

3x SHalai, Voice of Plenty

Sideboard

1x Ixalan's Binding

3x Nullhide Ferox

2x Deathgorge Scavanger

2x Shaper's Sanctuary

1x Settle the Wreckage

2x Sorcerous Spyglass

2x Remorseful Cleric

1x Forest

1x Lyra Dawnbringer

Top 8 - Lucas Wong

Top 8 Profile [with add-ons by Matthew on request]

What deck did you play today?
GW

 

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

Plains. [Editor's Note: When you see the deck, it will be PLAIN to see why.]

 

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

Baffling End. [Editor's Note: Actually surprisingly relevant. Almost BAFFLINGLY so.]

 

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

Not having double white. [Editor's Note: The irony is of course that the whole deck is white and yet plays less Plains than Alson's heh heh...]

 

Any interesting plays you made or witnessed today at the $1K Series?

March after March. [Editor's Note: Well, the card does say 'multitude' after all.]

 

What is your favourite Guilds of Ravnica card, and why?

Conclave Tribunal. [Editor's Note: You should have seen all the things that got exiled by the Tribunal. No discrimination whatsoever. Which is, I suppose, the entire point.]

 

Assassin's Trophy - does it really deserve a trophy or not?

No. [Editor's Note: See Alson's reasoning above.]

GW Tokens - Main Deck

1x Arch of Orazca

4x Temple Garden

4x Sunpetal Grove

9x Plains

4x Forest

3x Emmara, Soul of the Accord

3x Thorn Lieutenant

2x Shalai, Voice of Plenty

2x Trostani Discordant

4x Venerated Loxodon

4x Saproling Migration

4x March of the Multitudes

3x Flower//Flourish

4x Legion's Landing//Adanto, the First Fort

4x History of Benalia

4x Conclave Tribunal

1x Dawn of Hope

Sideboard

2x Baffling End

2x Settle the Wreckage

3x Knight of Autumn

2x Lyra Dawnbringer

2x Vivien Reid

3x Carnage Tyrant

1x Dawn of Hope