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What I Won't Be Playing at Pro Tour RtR

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Elias Watsfeldt
Elias Watsfeldt

About Elias Watsfeldt

Elias is a Gold level player from Sweden, who started playing Magic in 2003 alongside most people in his school class. He generally prefers to play control decks, both in Limited and Constructed. Some of his accomplishments include:

  • Gold Pro Player
  • 44 Lifetime Pro Points
  • 4th GP Ghent 2012
  • 5th GP San Diego 2011
  • Top 16 GP Gothenburg 2010
  • 30th Worlds 2011
  • 20 PTQ Top8s (2 wins)

What I Won't Be Playing at Pro Tour RtR

Greetings fellow planeswalkers.

This is my first attempt to compose a Magic-related article and I will try my best to make it both readable and comprehensible. I will try to include a brief introduction in my next article, provided this reaches a certain level of expectation. Today's focus will be laid at, as the title implies, two Modern decks (at least one being cool).

The first deck I would like to share with you is capable of practicing some dark magic. Imagine yourself playing one of the normal decks in the format, a deck which contains cards such as Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt to deal with opposing threats. You are then to imagine an average hand, containing threats in the form of Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mage, combined with Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile as disruption. For the sake of the argument, let us even presume your top card is Geist of Saint Traft. That hand is perfectly fine, well positioned against almost any deck you might face.

How agonizing will it then be, if your opponent’s first play is Slippery Bogle, followed by Spectral Flight, followed by Daybreak Coronet? At that point you are facing down a hexproofed, vigilanced Baneslayer Angel with a little +1/+1 bonus. I present to you, "The Bogleman".

The Bogleman

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This deck was originally created by the duo Ludvig Londos and Per Nyström based on a deck they tested for Pro Tour Amsterdam in 2010. The deck is described perfectly in this meme.

"The Bogleman" can do absurdly unfair things, while dodging most removal in the format. The exceptions are of course Liliana of the Veil and variants of Pyroclasm, or maybe even Supreme Verdict. You might also run into a chain of Cryptic Commands or get blown out by a series of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle triggers despite having an enormous, unblockable, untargetable creature on the battlefield. Discard such as Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughseize both do a great job at disabling "The Bogleman". Self-evidently, everything becomes much tougher after sideboard when Path to Exile turns into flashbackable (Snapcaster Mage, cough) Disenchants or such. Other sideboard cards to look out for are Jund Charm, Engineered Explosives, Annul, Spellskite, and even Blood Moon. Granted, a turn two Spellskite is practically unbeatable, but to be fair, that card is barely played.

At first, the deck seemed to be the real deal so we wanted to give the deck a real challenge. We took a normal Jund deck, switched the Lightning Bolts and, if I remember correctly, Kitchen Finks for a combination of Jund Charm, Seal of Primordium and Thoughtseize, not to mention the four Abrupt Decays already in the maindeck. As expected, the matchup could not really get any worse, and winning proved difficult. Unfortunately, this is something that will happen over and over again. For reference, Cedric Phillips' Jund sideboard taken from the latest available daily event:

Ancient Grudge

Grafdigger's Cage

Obstinate Baloth

Sarkhan the Mad

-2  Thoughtseize

-3  Jund Charm

-2  Deglamer

The single fact that you most likely would lose against Jund, perhaps the most played deck at PT Return to Ravnica, almost single-handedly dismisses the deck. Now don't get me wrong, this deck is lots of fun to play, and, if you were to swap Hallowed Fountain for Adarkar Wastes, it is very affordable indeed. Despite a tough, ok... terrible postboard matchup against Jund, this is still a very powerful deck! Most decks are not designed to deal with a hexproof creature powered up with a Daybreak Coronet. Or double Ethereal Armor into Rancor. I would encourage people to try this out on Magic Online. Even though I did mention a lot of reasons not to play the deck, the fact that back-to-back Pro Tour Top8er Denniz Rachid had "The Bogleman" as his #1 choice for quite some time remains.

Slippery Bogle
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Eventide (Foil)

Lastly, a short look at the few unorthodox cards/choices in "The Bogleman".

16 Creatures:

Since you only need one creature to win the game, a case could be made to go down to, say 12 of them. Though, there are a few reasons for playing every single good hexproof creature available. The main reason would be Liliana of the Veil, since with only one creature you are stone cold dead to Liliana. Secondly, drawing multiple creatures is not that bad. The second, or third, can also carry auras and stay on defense, or maybe jump in front of Tarmogoyf before dying.

Spirit Mantle / Lifelink:

In these two slots, you can actually play whatever you want. Battle Mastery and Moldervine Cloak are a few of the cards that have been in those slots.

Kor Spiritdancer:

The plan is to board this in, when their Path to Exiles go out. Things sure can get out of hand pretty quickly when you are dancing with the spirits!

Angel's Grace:

I imagine this card to be quite good against the resurging Valakut. If you have a Daybreak Coronet attached to one of your creatures, most Valakut decks will have a hard time killing you after going off once.

The last deck I would like to share with you is just another take on an already established deck.

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

I am obviously talking about mono red. Three to the face!!

Three to the Face

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The main differences between this version and the already existing ones are the addition of Deathrite Shaman and the lack of two mana spells. This deck has effectively 38 one mana spells. 38! For comparison, the latest available Magic Online list contains nine two mana spells. To mention the obvious, that is nine more than this deck has.

Without further ado, I would like to share my views on the different parts of the deck. The following cards are not to be cut from the deck, not under any circumstances. The Swedish mono red master, Per Nyström, describes the deck as a seven card combo, containing only combo pieces. I believe that to be a rather fair description of what the deck is trying to do and the following cards are strictly better than the other options available.

Though, when it comes to the other part of the deck, the competition is more substantial. Vexing Devil, Spark Elemental, Keldon Marauders and Hellspark Elemental are just a few of the cards that just did not make the cut. But Mogg Fanatic did? And Pillar of Flame? Really?

I grant you that all the previously listed creatures have way more potential than Pillar of Flame and Mogg Fanatic. Keldon Marauders often is a Lava Axe for two mana, whereas Hellspark Elemental can do six by himself. The problem appears when you are facing down opposing creatures. In general, from turn 3 and onwards, only Keldon Marauders will actually deal damage. Most of the time, you are facing down a selection of Tarmogoyf, Kitchen Finks, Wall of Roots and Restoration Angel. At that stage of the game, you do not want to draw Vexing Devil or Spark Elemental. By playing more creatures, removal instantly becomes better and valuable even after turn two. The creatures that currently are in the deck will, provided that you untap with them, at least deal two damage to your opponent.

A case could be made for exchanging Mogg Fanatic for Keldon Marauders, but there are two strong reasons not to make that swap. The first is that Mogg Fanatic costs one mana, which actually is a big deal. In some games you will be stuck on two lands the entire game, and therefore wanting to cast two spells per turn. The other, and perhaps more flagrant argument, is Spell Snare. By not having any two drops whatsoever, you are immune to Spell Snare, which is a big deal indeed against Tzu Ching Kuo's UW deck from the World Magic Cup. If Spell Snare sees less play, maybe it is correct to play a couple of Keldon Marauders. Regarding Pillar of Flame, all I can say, is that it is the best Shock available, and that Shock is slightly better in a creature defined format than the creature based options.

Deathrite Shaman and Grim Lavamancer fit perfectly in this deck. Not only does the deck contain 10 fetch lands, but it also contains 38 one mana spells. If either are left untouched against a creature based deck, they will gradually take over the game. I would say that Deathrite Shaman is the better one, since it can accelerate and mess with your opponent’s graveyard. That is very relevant against Snapcaster Mage, Life from the Loam, Kitchen Finks, Tarmogoyf and potentially Jarad's Orders. The acceleration part makes Blood Moon maindeckable and gives you an out in case you take a couple of mulligans. Turn two Blood Moon seems very powerful in the format, and not many decks can win against that opening on the draw.

The sideboard is pretty standard. Playing a combo deck, you don't have too many cards to bring out, so you can have very specific options in your sideboard. Smash to Smithereens is there for affinity or other decks you might face containing artifacts, whereas Tunnel Ignus is there for any Scapeshift deck roaming around. Ensnaring Bridge and Searing Blaze are of course there for decks leaning on creatures to win the game.

However, I will not be playing the deck at the Pro Tour, mainly because I have a better option available. Though I would not be surprised if I end up sleeving up Shard Volley for GP Lyon in about a month. There is nothing like burning your opponent for three on turn one!

That is all from me for today. I sincerely hope you got this far without any nausea.

Cheers,

Elias

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