It’s the Makdaddy coming back to you with an overdue tournament report for last weekend’s ETS (Feb 24, 2018).
I’m going to go through a lot of things. I’ll start off with what decks I thought about playing and what I ended up playing (Spoiler: It had a few copies of the Makdaddy) then head into what I liked and didn’t like in my 90 and then round out with what I would have changed and some advice moving forward.
What I almost played:
With the major changes coming out of Patch 1.28.7 I wasn’t sure what to play, I had a super busy week and didn’t really get time to put in the love and grind like I usually do. After I got off of work I hit the ladder and tried out Felnscar, Chalice and Icaria Black / Makto Red / Not Tavrod Jund / Removal Pile / Don’t Call It Jund.
The Felnscar Scream decks were mostly unaffected by the Vara nerf because they generally eschewed Vara for being lower to the ground, which is a strategy that makes sense as infiltrating a Direwood Beastcaller is all you need to do in some matchups. Larger reanimation packages with Grasping at Shadows gives an amazing yet often unnecessary late game advantage. Another big advantage to staying lean and mean is being able to pack in cards to fight off against your bad matchups and giving you a bit more room for sideboarding.
Felnscar seemed good against a field of slow speed removal decks and being on the tail end of a major nerf to graveyard decks I didn’t expect people to be packing in kind of hate they would need ie Steward of the Past.
I ended up not playing the deck because I didn’t have enough experience with it and the lists I was running felt way too clunky and with little to no experience I had no idea how to tune them. People often say this about choosing a deck for Modern in Magic the Gathering, but picking a deck you understand and are potent with will get you a lot more wins than playing a stronger deck poorly.
With Reliquary Raider getting “Nerfed” into a sweet option for Chalice there came a flood of Chalice decks on ladder, I ran a few different variations of it but it really didn’t feel better positioned in the format. Reliquary Raider so far seems to help matchups that Chalice was already winning ie Aggro. I have more experience with Chalice than I did Felnscar but I also just really hate playing Chalice so some bias leaked through.
After a lot of late night testing I eventually came home to my two favorite people, Mom and Dad, because I had the most experience with the deck and thought it was one of the best in the current metagame.
A Match Made in Heaven
What I did play:
I played Icaria Black / Makto Red / Not Tavrod Jund / Removal Pile / Don’t Call It Jund and finished 5-2 missing Top 8 on breakers.
Overall, I was pretty happy with my Maindeck and generally unhappy with my Sideboard.
What I did like:
I didn’t think much of the Stonepowder Alchemist nerf (Now 2/1, Was 2/2) until I started playing Vicious Highwaymen, and now I get why the nerf happened.
Going into the tournament I expected a ton of Rakano/Stonescar Aggro and Icaria Black which meant there was going to be a lot of X/1 Aggro creatures and Stonepowder Alchemists to deal with them. This led me to pack in a full playset of Vicious Highwaymen and the card over-performed all day.
I didn’t really respect Vicious Highwaymen until I realized that the card in tandem with removal gave you a sustainable way to race against Aggro.
I also decided to play Harsh Rules, this isn’t really shocking in a Removal Pile strategy but here it was a bit unique because people usually have either the Highwaymen/Whirling Duo/Valkyrie Enforcer package or the Removal Pile/Harsh Rule package but not both. After a lot of playtesting I felt like the more controlling Icaria Black variants felt better but also that Highwaymen was good enough to play as a midrange-control threat.
Another change in the deck was the inclusion of 3 Annihilate and 3 Torch over the usual 2 Annihilate and 4 Torch. I felt like I was going to see a hell of a lot of Big Combrei and Rakano Outlaws and I did but going into the next ETS I would go back to the 2/4 configuration.
The last two pieces of my Mainboard that I want to talk about are Sword of Icaria and Valkyrie Enforcer, I think these two get overlooked far too often because people don’t understand how subtly good they can be.
Sword of Icaria trades with almost every creature you see. so people often cut it. I expect it to trade with every creature but I play it so that it trades 1 for 1 with Aegis creatures. To me it is just Slay 5 and 6 in Rakano/Stonescar Matchups, the added Warcry is just icing on the cake.
Valkyrie Enforcer I think shines the most in the mirror because being able to silence a Makto or pop an Aegis while developing your board is just good. Another line that people don’t consider is the power of silencing your own creature.
Why would you do that?
If you silence your own creature your opponent cannot respond to it, meaning if your opponent puts a Wanted Poster on your Stonepowder Alchemist you can deny them the card draw at the cost of losing your creature’s Revenge. Nine times out of ten cutting your opponents card draw will matter more than your 2/1 coming back.
That being said, don’t silence your Maktos, having a recurring threat that will eat many removal spells is worth giving your opponent card draw.
What I didn’t like:
I genuinely think I built a terrible sideboard. I never brought in Sabotage or Steward of the Past and I brought in Flamestoker in all the wrong matchups. I also just packed in extra copies of random removal spells I thought could be handy.
I think the trick to building a good sideboard is to be able to explicitly write why you’re bringing in each card and against what. The better your reasoning the better you are using that slot.
What I would do different:
If I were to redo my sideboard I would do something like this.
2 Devastating Setback – Great vs Aggro and any Weapon-based decks.
2 Shadowlands Feaster – Great vs Icaria Black, I think this dude is a bit under the radar but he trades with Icaria and Makto superbly and can counter anything that gets tutored by Rise.
2 Flamestoker – This is some sweet tech for Icaria Blue, for them to deal with it they need to bring in cards that are generally bad against you because of how few relics you play. This is also alright against TJP Control decks but they play so many Disjunctions that it may be moot.
2 Suffocate – It kills teh small tings.
4 Tavrod, Auric Broker – This is some spice, I think there’s a few matchups where the game goes long and you want a card like Tavrod over Makto for the sheer card advantage. Tavrod is also better vs decks running Madness because he doesn’t shuffle into your opponent’s deck when he dies. Additionally, he is much better against Big Combrei because he has a much bigger but and is less awful to have silenced.
1 Smuggler’s Stash – This is great in any game you would want to bring in Tavrod and generally good in any game where you’ll want to buy back a bunch of resources.
1 Starsteel Daisho – Another piece of the Tavrod package but can also be more useful against Aggro than Icaria #3 because you can slice and dice several small friends.
1 Furnace Mage – This is the only slot I’m kind of iffy about but I figure that there are enough decks with big weapons like Daisho and Sword of the Skyking that it can’t hurt to pack a better Rise target.
Advice for the Future:
The decks I would have on my radar are Big Combrei, Stonescar Gunslingers and Icaria Blue. I think Big Combrei is going to be more common as it is one of the few strategies that can go over the top of Icaria decks while still being proactive enough against Aggro. Stonescar Gunslingers is likely the best Aggro variant at the moment and Madness is very strong against a field of Maktos. I’ve never been a big fan of Icaria Blue because I’ve always thought that it eschews meaningful interaction to spin its wheels and play expensive cool cards but I think players are slowly working out the kinks.
That’s all for today! If you have questions leave a comment below, tune into my Twitch and ask me live or shoot me a Tweet!
Yours Truly, The Makdaddy