For GP Providence, I chose to switch from Turbo Fog to Esper control after my experience in Orlando with the latter. After getting blown out by Insult, I decided that the Settle the Wreckage tech many of the turbo fog decks played would be easy to predict and fall victim to the current Duress sideboards, so I set my sights on Jeremy Desani’s GP winning build of esper control.
I made a few alterations to incorporate pieces of the top 8 decks from the two GPs last weekend. I really liked the card advantage that Hieroglyphic Illumination can generate, cast or cycled, and the extra early removal spell in Cast Down. I also saw the importance of having access to Detection Tower in the 75 with cards like Carnage Tyrant being side-boarded in against control. While Jeremy had it in his sideboard, I felt it could easily be fit into the main deck without too much strain.
1 Detection Tower
1 Field of Ruin
2 Irrigated Farmland
4 Fetid Pools
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Torrential Gearhulk
Instants and Sorceries (25)
1 Cast Down
2 Essence Scatter
4 Fatal Push
4 Glimmer of Genius
2 Hieroglyphic Illumination
4 Vraska’s Contempt
Other Spells (4)
3 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Arguel’s Blood Fast
1 Chromium, the Mutable
1 Forsake the Worldly
4 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner
1 Hour of Revelation
1 Jace’s Defeat
1 Profane Procession
1 Sorcerous Spyglass
1 The Eldest Reborn
1 The Scarab God
1 Vizier of Many Faces
The deck is your typical Blue Black control deck, splashing white only for main deck Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. While the mana is extremely streamlined and the white splash is basically free, I did run into some small mana issues with so many double colored spells. The game plan is to utilize 1 for 1 removal while building your land count to start casting multiple spells a turn. Once your opponent’s hand is filled with their removal spells that don’t have targets they’ll have to take a turn off, allowing you to start casting draw spells, turning card advantage in your favor.
You can typically stabilize the board with counter spells and cheap removal spells until you resolve a gearhulk. Once the gearhulk is in play protecting Teferi, you can use the Teferi, Hero of Dominaria to finish locking the game out. Most opponents scoop game one early so they’ll have the maximum time to try and win two sideboard games.
After game one, my strategy was to sideboard into an esper aggro/tempo deck. After being stuck with 1 for 1 removal spells that can’t connect in game one, most opponents sideboard into a more proactive strategy to duress and doomfall or Negate and Jace’s Defeat. Recognizing this, I try and blank those spells by going lower to the ground,while amassing card advantage and pressure using Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Arguel’s Blood Fast. I typically sideboard out my Hieroglyphic Illumination,and trim on copies of Fatal Push, and Torrential Gearhulk. I also like trading out a copy of Vraska’s Contempt for one of the multiple removal spells in my sideboard like Profane Procession or Hour of Revelation. This sideboard strategy tends to work great against decks bringing in Duress and Negate because you can resolve these spells early and use your countermagic to back up your pressure and advantage.
In terms of travel, it was quite an adventure to arrive in Rhode Island. After a crazy rainstorm with flooding and a tornado warning we arrived in Providence with enough time to get a good night’s rest. In the morning we awoke ready to do battle.
I started the day with two byes
Round 3 – Jon Jolin – Bant Sun Control
Game 1 – I was able to lock him out with counter magic on his pertinent threats, My 6 draw spells were able to provide more card advantage and I was able to protect gearhulks and keep his Teferi, Hero of Dominaria of the board with my Vraska’s Contempt. When I had 7 cards in hand and he was out he scooped in hopes of finishing a Game 2 and 3.
Game 2 – I side boarded into the aggressive aggro strategy, which he wasn’t expecting. While he had a bunch of counter magic I was able to go under with my Glint-Sleeve Siphoner providing card advantage. It was a quick game as any spell he tried to resolve was countered while my multiple Siphoners went to town.
Round 4 – Jeff Pyka – UR Storm
Game 1 – I went extremely aggressive and used my syncopates on his early artifact redraws. He ended up missing a few land drops and I was able to get a Teferi Emblem and pressure his lack of lands by exiling them.I eventually beat him with multiple Torrential Gearhulk while taking him off his lands and few artifacts. There was a crucial turn where I had to let him combo me and I had 1 exile trigger with the Teferi Emblem. He had a Aetherflux Reservoir and Inspiring Statuary, I opted to exile a land which ended up stopping him from finishing me off.
Game 2 – I mulliganed to 4 to find some lands. He ended up casting Nezahal, Primal Tide, either turn 4 or 5. I conceded knowing I was beat.
Game 3 – He mulliganed to 5. I was able to pressure him with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner while countering his plays. I got my sorcerous spyglass down early enough to see the Karn, Scion of Urza in his hand and name it. He wasn’t able to overcome to card deficit, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner combined with Torrential Gearhulk closed the game quickly.
Round 5 – Marcus Luong – Bant Turbo Fog
Game 1 – I got tripped up on a Mulligan to 4, while he was able to flip an early Search for Azcanta. He got to comboing fairly quickly, and I scooped after playing only a Glacial Fortress to try and glean as much info as possible.
Game 2 – I side boarded in my aggressive creatures. I was able to get behind a couple of Glint-Sleeve Siphoner while sitting back on my counter magic to close the game quickly.
Game 3 – This game turned into a slugfest while I was able to land Glint-Sleeve Siphoner early, I was lacking on my ability to stop his ramp. He got to his Nezahal, Primal Tide on turn 6. While he couldn’t block my siphoners, I was able to copy his Nezahal, Primal Tide with Vizier of Many Faces. We took turns trading Teferi, Hero of Dominaria tucks, I had to focus my counter magic on making sure he didn’t take any extra turns. He was able to stick one Nexus of Fate but had to use that opportunity to force me to blink my Vizier of Many Faces so he could kill my Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. The turning point of the game started when I cast my The Eldest Reborn which forced him to sacrifice his Teferi. He had to chump his Karn Token on my attack with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and 2 Torrential Gearhulk. At this point I still had a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Torrential Gearhulk, and Nezahal, Primal Tide. After he had a few dead draws, I was able to reanimate his Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Tuck his Nezahal, Primal Tide and swing for lethal.
Round 6 – Jonathan Nickerson – Grixis Midrange
Game 1 – An early Glint-Sleeve Siphoner buried me in card advantage and I wasn’t able to stabilize. The game ended fairly quickly as I couldn’t get any answers for his board.
Game 2 – We mirrored each other card for card, as I played a Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Arguel’s Blood Fast, I was able to start drawing cards off my Blood Fast before he was. Although, He landed another Siphoner I was able to get my The Scarab God out and reanimate his dead siphoner. I ended up getting the game with the increased damage output.
Game 3 – I mulliganed to 5 and kept 2 lands. I was able to keep some of his threats off the board. his early Glint-Sleeve Siphoner was clocking me and drawing cards. I held my ground and kept things he had off the board and played patient. He was able to land his Sorcerous Spyglass and named Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Right on Que my next 4 draws were 3 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Hour of Devastation. I was forced to try and get upto 9 mana to cast my Hour and use the Disallow as backup to make sure it resolved. It came down to drawing a 3rd white source. Most of this game I spent trying to find lands to matchup with the color combo in my hand. I never found the land and He finished me off with multiple Glint-Sleeve Siphoner.
Round 7 – Chris Allan – Keld Red
Game 1 – He kept a 1 lander, after a couple of 1 drops met a Fatal Push. I was able to start casting Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Torrential Gearhulks before he hit a 3rd land and was able to close the game quickly.
Game 2 – He looked like he wanted to mulligan but chose to keep. After a few one drops and missing his 2nd land, one of my Fatal Pushs on a Bomat Courier with 4 cards under it he had to discard his 6 card hand, I cast disallow to stop him from drawing the cards and leaving his hand empty. He scooped at that point out of frustration.
Round 8 – Ben Bugalter – RB Aggro
Game 1 – I was able to counter everything after turn 3. He eventually missed a turn 4 spell, I end-stepped a Vraska’s Contempt on his Kari Zev, Skyship Raider. I eventually cast Torrential Gearhulk and he scooped to the second one flashing back [/mtg_card]Vraska’s Contempt[/mtg_card].
Game 2 – He swiftly Ran me over with multiple Bomat Courier’s followed by an extra Soul-Scar Mage.
Game 3 – He landed an early Aethersphere Harvester and Scrapheap Scrounger. I stayed patient while he landed a Hazoret the Fervent with a hand full of cards. I eventually started playing multiple gearhulks to Vraska’s Contempt all his threats. The crowd started to gather around and I think nerves started to get to him. He extended his hand to concede.
This concluded the first day of play and we ended at 7-1 and in 26th position on the day.
I had a slight fever and a throbbing headache when I woke up on Sunday morning. Although I took some Excedrin in hopes to cut the sting of the pain and bring the fever down, it barely helped. Dedicated to getting these last few pro points, I trudged through and dealt with the pain in order to fulfill my goal.
Round 9 – Gavin Wen – UB Midrange
Game 1 – I was able to get early tempo killing his first few Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. Although he was able to resolve Arguel’s Blood Fast, he wasn’t able to find enough creatures and non-removal spells to get around my counter magic. He went down to 4 life drawing cards and I was able to resolve a Torrential Gearhulk and protect it to end the game.
Games 2 – He was out racing me with 2 Glint-Sleeve Siphoner to my 1. He cast Duress, took my Profane Procession but seen an Essence Scatter. He was missing a few land drops and I was able to resolve The Scarab God and Reanimate his Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. It forced him into having to chump block. He missed enough land drops I was able to bottleneck his plays and start casting multiple spells. I was able to close the game out.
Round 10 – Nicholas Mohammed – BR Aggro
Game 1 – Nick had a fairly quick clock and was able to get through all my removal. I ended up having three Torrential Gearhulk clogging up my hand after I missed my 6th land. His Scrapheap Scrounger ended up closing the game.
Game 2 – He got an early clock out and I wasn’t able to keep up with his first few creatures. I was able to keep hovering above the damage he could do, but i couldn’t keep his Scrapheap Scrounger off the board. I finally got a Torrential Gearhulk but was only able to cast Fatal Push while at 2 life. He top-decked a Chandra, Torch of Defiance to put me out of my misery.
Round 11 – Raeef Istfan – Mono Green
Game 1 – I was on the draw and he was able to get out ahead with a turn 2 Heart of Kiran, when I had an Essence Scatter hoping for a creature. He was able to eventually cast multiple creatures before I could cast multiple spells in a turn. He was able to outpace my draw and with multiple Vraska’s Contempt clogging my hand, his one Blossoming Defense was enough keep the extra creature on the board to stymie my Torrential Gearhulk block on the next turn.
Game 2 – I mulliganed to 4 to find a land. Upon keeping he was able cast Llanowar Elves turn one and follow up with four turns of Steel Leaf Champion. After the third one, I scooped, enjoyed a laugh, and I set my sights on refocusing for the next round.
Round 12 – Griffin Kadar – Keld Red
Game 1 – I was able to easily 1 for 1 all his plays after he had a few turns of removal clogging his hand, my Glimmer of Genius provided enough card advantage until I was able to resolve a Torrential Gearhulk, which prompted a concession.
Game 2 – My hand was a bit clunky but I felt like if he had one play per turn I could stabilize. Griffin resolved a Turn one Bomat Courier, Turn two Bomat Courier and Soul-Scar Mage, Turn three Bomat Courier and Earthshaker Khenra. On that note I scooped, as I didn’t think I could stabilize.
Game 3 – This was probably the best game of the weekend for me. Griffin Started super aggressive, but I was able to answer all his cards. He finally resolved a Flame of Keld with an empty hand. He was able to draw a few cards off a Bomat Courier and a few other creatures. I killed the creatures in his end step with Fatal Push. Upon untapping and using his Flame of Keld‘s 3rd ability he ran me down to 6, emptied his hand and played another Flame of Keld. The next turn I used Torrential Gearhulk to kill 2 creatures he cast. Next Turn, He activated the third ability of Flame of Keld and casts Lightning Strike putting me to one life. I cast the Torrential Gearhulk killing his last creature and he followed up with a third Flame of Keld. We are both out of cards, On my Turn, I drew a Vraska’s Contempt and attack him for 10. On his turn he draws the 2 cards from Flame of Keld and 1 for turn. He plays a land and cast Chandra, Torch of Defiance. I almost panicked and exiled one of my gearhulks to go to 3 life. After thinking it through, I decided the Chandra resolves and he plussed. I decided to Contempt the Chandra. Upon the resolution of her ability, he revealed a land and put me back to one Life. He passed turn and made me attack him to death, revealing another land in his hand. A gripping nail biter that I barely escaped.
Round 13 – Peter Davis – BR Aggro
Game 1 – We both kept our 7 card hands and proceeded to go just how I drew it up. I one for oned each play he made and cast my turn 6 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria keeping my Disallow mana open. I was able to cast a late Torrential Gearhulk and he conceded to my full hand of cards and Teferi Emblem.
Game 2 – He had an aggressive start and I was able to resolve my Arguel’s Blood Fast early. After going back and forth with Vraska’s Contempts and Torrential Gearhulks to combat his 3 Goblin Chainwhirlers. I was able to flip into Temple of Aclazotz and gain enough life he didn’t feel he could catch up.
Round 14 – Sebastian Steffe – Turbo Fog
By this time in the day I was feeling so ill I can’t remember what exactly happened. I stole game one. In game two, he had a timely top deck of a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and quickly closed the game. Game three looks like it was a grind with Glint-Sleeve Siphoner. I do remember him being a great spirited player and enjoying our games. The details of the games I don’t recall. I came out victorious in three games.
Round 15 – Thien Nguyen – Grixis Midrange
Again I was feeling super Ill. I managed to win game one. After board, we had two really great games riddled with several misplays on my part. He was definitely the better player and deserved the win. He ended up finishing 15th, so congrats to him! It was a great pleasure having a talented opponent and although I didn’t win, I was thrilled to get on the road and get some food in hopes to feel better.
What I’ve Learned
I am extremely impressed with the deck. I enjoyed the play style and it was extremely powerful. With the exception of mulligans to four, I never felt like I wasn’t in a game. I didn’t feel like the Grixis Midrange match-up was that bad, however the results show that it could definitely be a weakness. I will be spending the week reanalyzing the match-up and testing it to see how I can shore it up through sideboard. Arguel’s Blood Fast was definitively a problem spot and Forsake the Worldly definitely helps the matchup. Hour of Revelation tested well, but I wasn’t ever in a spot where I needed to cast it. It may have been too cute for the sideboard. I was very happy with the main deck configuration, I will be looking at the sideboard to stream line it a bit more.
Look for my article next week on how to play the deck and sideboard for all your match-ups at GP Richmond next weekend! If you have any advice for the sideboard or want to add any input feel free to comment!