So here’s the list I ran for Gold Rush 2017 which ended with a 5-4 finish.
ROUND 1 versus 4-COLOR ENERGY (WIN)
The immediate breakthrough card in this match-up is having a Dire Fleet Hoarder (DFH) and Captain Lannery Storm early in the game to help us ramp and possibly cheat a Chandra or Glorybringer 1 turn sooner than they can cast their own. It was also very evident on game 2 that a DFH can deter an incoming attack to respect the ramp it gives this deck.
Last minute decision to main deck 2 copies of Vraska’s Contempt has really paid off not only because we have to respect The Scarab God overturning the game by using our own value creatures against us, but it’s a great way to answer opposing Chandra and pre-combat Glorybringer which our Abrade and Fatal Push can’t reach. I battled with the same opponent in an FNM in the past, Moises Ong, which made me decide to main deck Contempt.
Lastly, DFH and Captain Lannery Storm has done a great job fixing our mana. Many times I needed double Red or double Black and the treasure tokens have always made it easier for me. Another thing worth mentioning is that my Fatal Pushes have been made more powerful thanks to Revolt and my Unlicensed has dealt significant damage as well thanks to these.
ROUND 2 versus 4-COLOR ENERGY (WIN)
This game wasn’t so different from the first game but a key takeaway here which went unnoticed in Round 1 was the 2/1 body of DFH. His 2-power was extremely relevant in forcing my opponent to use his energy to keep the Cub alive. It was also able to keep their Servant of Conduit from chipping away early in the game. My first build of this deck ran Wily Goblin instead of DFH to get the treasure token on ETB but with 1 power, it was a very bad Rampant Growth which also needed the deck to go heavy on Red to get RR consistently on turn 2.
This game was where Sunbird’s Invocation showed its true power to the surprise of my opponent, JD, who felt really behind after cashing in a free Chandra from casting a Combustible Gearhulk. Dealing with a 6/6 first striker is tricky enough but having it defend a Chandra from a 2/2 cub, a 3/2 rogue and a 5/4 hydra is just brutal with both of us top decking for answers.
This card was just too dominant that it forced JD to side in Supreme Will, Negates and Appetite for the Unnatural. I noticed he kept his mana up from turn 4 onward because my DFH and Lannery was churning out Treasures very early. To the dismay of my oppnent, there was no Sunbird’s Invocation and instead a Scorpion God and Glorybringer helped closed the game quickly.
Duress was also a key card that allowed me to pry open his hand on turn 1 and 3 and took down Negates and Appetite to save my Gearhulks from getting killed or my Chandra from getting countered. I was hoping it would take out an Attune but it didn’t.
ROUND 3 versus SULTAI ENERGY (WIN)
Like other energy decks, I wanted a hand with answers to early threats like Servants, Cubs and Refiners. Again and again, the DFHs and Lannery Storms did an excellent job in trading and ramping me to an early Combustible Gearhulk forcing my opponent to make difficult choices early in the game. A Sunbird’s Invocation resolving with no Hostage Taker in sight took us forward.
The game was quite lopsided because my opponent, Julio Espina, went “midrange” by playing Nissa, Steward of Elements but he was whiffing on the cards he needed from the scry, and his creatures were kept busy blocking to keep Nissa alive instead of sending them at me. Flooding was an issue for my opponent as well.
We had frequent Fatal Push vs. Blossoming Defense battles but it was the right decision to keep his threat count low because his game plays were faster compared to mine which required a bit of setting up.
ROUND 4 versus TEMUR ENERGY (LOSS)
After 3 straight wins, I was getting confident with my energy match-ups but I lost to this straight Temur energy deck in the hands of Jeanno Bulatao. I was able to answer all of his threats while he did the same to mine, both of us not allowing the other to turn the game around to his favor.
Our Chandra face-off required me to blow off 2 Hour of Devastations to keep the board state exclusively lands. This went on for a couple of turns, both of us top decking and I eventually got him down to 3 with me at 20. After drawing 5 lands straight and Sunbird’s Invocation triggering from an Abrade that tucked 2 Walking Ballista, I got smashed hard with 2 Glorybringers.
Game 2 was worst with me on the play after taking a mulligan to 5. The game went considerably well with 5 cards but his threats just kept on coming and I had no mana enough to sweep the board and him topdecking a Glorybringer with a Vizier of Many Faces already at hand gave me a deja vu of game 1.
ROUND 5 versus SULTAI ENERGY (LOSS)
Jeremiah Chua, a friend of mine from a LGS in Quezon City, was my next opponent. I knew his deck but never got to play against him in FNMs. He was playing Bristling Hydras and Cartouche of Knowledge – resembling a flying Carnage Tyrant that was harder to evade, harder to kill, and comes down extremely early thanks to turn 2 Servant of the Conduit.
I never won a game against him because the amount of energy he is able to generate was just too fast even for my cheap removals to handle. All of his creatures apart from Winding Constrictor and Rishkar, Peema Renegade were energy generating or energy reliant. Longtusk Cubs, Servant of the Conduit, Rogue Refiner, Glint-sleeve Siphoner, Greenbelt Rampager were all high power, low costed creatures that kept me on the defensive. Exerting a Glorybringer wasn’t enough to keep his onslaught at bay and once the Hydra starts flying with 3-9 energy in reserve, it can survive an Hour of Devastation easily.
At this point, after losing to insufficient answers to Jeano and Jeremiah, I was already considering adding Noxious Gearhulks to give me an additional removal and access to life gain to help me stabilize. I could have killed a 6/6 flying Longtusk Cub in game 2 if I drew a Noxious instead of a Combustible Gearhulk against Jeremiah, or took down the Glorybringer against Jeanno.
ROUND 6 versus MONO BLACK AGRO (LOSS)
When my opponent played a Swamp and cast a tapped Dread Wanderer, I knew I made a wrong choice of keeping 3 lands, 1 Captain Lannery Storm, 1 Unlicensed Disintegration, 1 Glorybringer and 1 Hour of Devastation.
These two critters chipped away at my life totals so fast that I had barely enough cards to stay alive. Kid Ablaza, who has kept his cool throughout the game, pounded me with 2/1s, 1/1s and a recurring Scrapheap Scrounger leaving me at 5. When I finally killed everything and he has eaten all his creatures in the yard to reanimate his Screapheap, I ended up with him having 2 Scrapheaps and me with a Scorpion God. He was out of cards and top decked a Never//Return. I tapped my remaining mana to put a -1/-1 counter on one of his Scrapheap but a 3/2 and a 2/1 put together is 5 damage so we went to game 2.
Game 2, I mulled to 5 and I forgot that black had ways to deal with 6/6s. I was so focused on Fatal Push, Essence Extraction and Never that I forgot Walk the Plank was printed.
Imagine my Gearhulks getting fed to the sharks and Kid sending his Aethersphere Harvester at me. At one point he was at 30 and took 11 damage from a Combustible reveal and didn’t mind going down to 19. The cliche part of this match up was that after I managed to kill off everything and even exiling his single copy of Scrapheap Scrounger with Vraska’s Contempt, he still managed to cast Return on Aftermath to crew his Aethersphere Harvester to deal the last 3 damage and me desperate for an Abrade.
ROUND 7 versus RAMUNAP RED (LOSS)
My first face-off against standard’s king of aggro decks in the hands of Joshua Bautista. The first game was an action-packed sequence of turns where we both tried to turn the corner before the other can recover. I was down to 10 by turn 4 after taking damage from his haste creatures and me killing them off one at a time. It soon came to a showdown between Combustible Gearhulk and Hazoret the Fervent but with me down to 8 and Joshua with 3 Ramunap Ruins and 1 Sunscorched Deserts, he chipped my life total 2 points at a time and me with no other threats or access to life gain pre-board.
Game 2 I was able to go low to the ground and packed as much removal and Gifted Aetherborn legally possible. I have to hand it to Gifted Aetherborn for showing its face early to help me stabilize and my Sunbird’s Invocation took over with 2 Glorybringers back to back.
My Gifted Aetherborns decided not to show up for the party on game 3 and me facing down Rampaging Ferocidons and a dead Earthshaker Khenra on the graveyard. I was severely behind when my Lannery Storms were killed before it could attack and my Dire Fleet Hoarders couldn’t find their treasures after getting Magma Sprayed. This was a short game but I still felt I had the cards to win. Though the games were heated, Joshua was cool about it and commended the ingenuity of the deck.
ROUND 8 versus RB Agro (WIN)
I was 2 minutes late for this game because I got caught up trying to buy the cards for my new brew (yes, I’m brewing again) and I hurried to my tables looking at Josephus casually shuffling his deck.
On the toss, he won the die roll and started with a tapped Dread Wanderer. I can see Kid Ablaza’s face once again and somewhat knew how to maneuver against this deck a bit better. The lessons learned from Joshua a round earlier also kicked in. Each of his threats has traded with the correct removal. My Vraska’s Contempt was exclusively reserved for either Hazoret or Scrapheap Scrounger. I didn’t attack with my Lannery Storm because it was pointless to hurry up and not have enough life points to cast Sunbirds or enough cards to maximize Invocation. We were both low on cards and his remaining threat, Ahn-Crop Crasher, was left standing and Hazoret coming in as a top deck took me down to 13. I cast Sunbird’s Invocation and kept by ‘previously can’t block DFH’ to welcome Hazoret. He drew and didn’t find removal and crash the Fervent One against my DFH. Next step I drew a Glorybringer which cascaded into a Vraska’s Contempt to deal with his Hazoret luckily. Attacked with Glorybringer and exerted it to kill the Crasher and passed. He drew a Soul-scar Mage which wasn’t enough and I took game 1.
Game 2 was about The Scorpion God. He single-handedly made sure nothing came back from the dead, nor stayed alive long enough to deal significant damage past Turn 5. I drew a total of 4 cards from him and dealt 12 damage total. I was at 8 and him at 6 and Josephus’ clever sideboard included a Kari-Zev’s Expertise.
He attempted to take my Scorpion God and swing in for lethal together with a revived Dread Wanderer a turn back but thanks to some untap mana and treasures lying around, I was able to ping down the Dread Wanderer, draw a card, took 6 and went down to 2. He gave me back The Scorpion God together with a firm hand shake facing down a 6/5 God with no blockers.
ROUND 9 – Opponent No Show (WIN)
It was a long read but I fully enjoyed writing it as much as I hope you enjoyed reading it. Special thanks to the following people who helped get my deck to its best form for the Gold Rush. It can be tweaked better but I am still satisfied with its result overall.
- Giovanni Agbuya, for the mainboarding of Vraska’s Contempt
- Miguel Utleg, for suggesting Dire Fleet Hoarder instead of Wily Goblin
- Jeremiah Chua, for removing Lay Bare the Heart from the side