I brought my Torment of Sandwurms deck to our Gold Rush Trials (Gold Rush is a cash prize heavy tournament organized by an LGS here in the Philippines) and wanted to share my results here.
I predicted that I will be playing against a lot of Energy decks and UB Control decks and true enough, after playing 3 rounds, I did face 2 energy decks and 1 UB deck with a 1-2 record. I dropped to attend a family gathering in the evening.
How was the performance?
In the games that I lost, Glorybringer was the common denominator. It was quite difficult to react to a 4/4 flying haste creature and me without access to Grasp of Darkness. Walk the Plank was just too slow, and Vraska’s Contempt & Hour of Glory were too expensive and clunky to run 4 copies just to answer this dragon every single game.
Against the UB deck, it wasn’t definitive because we both exchanged mana drought and mana flooding in all 3 of our games. Either I had all the lands without my Convergence or Torment of Hailfire, or he didn’t have the lands but had all the counters. We won the last game by recovering from mana screw and resolved The Scarab God with 2 Torrential Gearhulks in the graveyard.
In the games that I won, Sandwurm Convergence was really amazing. It stopped thopters and Glorybringer from attacking. Continuously churning out 5/5s soon overwhelmed my opponent’s Bristling Hydras and Longtusk Cubs, and the control player not having enough removals to stay alive.
Yahenni’s Expertise was also great at resetting the board against energy decks, while cascading into a ramp spell felt exceptionally good.
From the side, Duress was good against the UB match-up which was expected. Gifted Aetherborn did hold its own against the energy decks making sure large cubs and hydras were managed.
The deck’s curve was really good at getting into 7-8 mana by turn 5-6 and I realized that I would have won more games or closed matches with 2 games instead of 3 if I had more early interaction, better sweepers, and have non-conditional win conditions. Torment of Hailfire was good on paper but in actual games, it was not.
Casting a huge spell that gives your opponent a choice is never better than a card that does what its supposed to do. Even if all the choices are bad, the opponent can always work the math, analyze the situation, and respond in a way that still leaves him at an advantage. Since we’re not running creatures, removal spells get stuck in my opponent’s hand which allows them to pitch the cards to negate some of Torment’s damage. Ramping up from turns 3 all the way to 6 to deal 12 damage is no way near impressive.
To rework the deck I initially considered splashing white for Cast Out, Fumigate and Regal Caracal to buy us some time but red simply offered better mana base thanks to Rootbound Crag and Dragonskull Summit.
Red also gave us Lightning Strike which is immensely better than Walk the Plank because it’s an instant. Although it can’t kill big creatures like Walk the Plank can, casting it an instant speed and sneak it past a Longtusk Cub activation trigger to snipe it before it gets the counter is great. Against Ramunap Red, we want to be able to deal with haste creatures better and 4 copies of Fatal Push is just not enough.
Cut is our direct replacement to Walk the Plank because it’s not as mana specific requiring double black on turn 2. The aftermath ability is super good for a ramp deck later in the game and can the win if our opponent isn’t careful. On its own, it can kill 80% of the creatures we would normally kill with Walk the Plank anyway.
Yahenni’s Expertise is a great sweeper don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it falls short on killing a Bristling Hydra or Longtusk Cubs backed up by tons of energy. Bontu’s Last Reckoning and Hour of Devastation are “no-questions-ask” panic button we can play to get rid of Gods and Planeswalkers.
After brewing the deck in my head, here’s what I ended up with which I began testing in Cockatrice. So far it’s winning 65% of the time against Tier 1 decks. (17/26 games)
4 Gift of Paradise
2 Sandwurm Convergence
4 Fatal Push
4 Lightning Strike
2 Vraska’s Contempt
1 Hour of Glory
4 Beneath the Sands
4 Hour of Promise
1 Bontu’s Last Reckoning
3 Cut // Ribbons
1 Torment of Hailfire
2 Yaheeni’s Expertise
1 Hour of Devastation
2 Nicol Bolas, God-Pharoah
4 Blooming Marsh
1 Canyon Slough
3 Dragonskull Summit
2 Rootbound Crag
3 Sheltered Thicket
3 Appetite for the Unnatural
2 Chandra, Torch of Defiance
2 Vraska, Relic Seeker
2 Lost Legacy
2 Magma Spray
Yes this was not a typo. Nicol Bolas, God Pharaoh joins us in the mainboard as our 7-mana win condition we absolutely have no problems casting on 5. We only have 1 Island in the deck but we can always find it with 8 ramp spells and Gift of Paradise can give us blue mana too.
Apart from Nicol Bolas, Chandra and Vraska joins him from the sideboard to complete our Planeswalker package. Since we’re packing 18 removal spells, we shouldn’t have so much trouble keeping our walkers alive. I chose them because they are a win condition all on their own, they all can protect themselves, and they do something for us whatever stage in the game we’re in.
Duress and Lost Legacy remains in our sideboard against Approach decks and control decks. Just be careful when casting Lost Legacy against Approach decks because they usually take them out if they their opponent plays black.
Lastly we have 2 copies of Magma Spray because we got to respect the Ramunap Red match-up. They like preying on slow, non-interactive decks and if we are ever caught with our shields down from turn 1 through 3, we might have spent more time searching lands and shuffling than actually playing Magic.
That’s it for today, see you back here tomorrow!