This past weekend was the TCGplayer MaxPoint Championship in Milwaukee. What a tournament! I know I write and work for TCGplayer so you guys may think I'm a little biased but I promise you this is true. This tournament was fantastic and you should be planning on attending it next year. The tournament didn't start until 11:00 am and ended before 7:00 pm. The following day you just had to play five rounds and if you made Day 2 you were basically guaranteed $250. In fact only eight people on Day 2 didn't cash. I don't know about you but to me that's freaking awesome!
Can you imagine if that happened at every Grand Prix? That if you Day 2ed you were guaranteed to get at least $250? That'd be great and I personally would feel better about doing poorly on Day 2. Not that it gives you incentive to do poorly but it's a nice buffer to have. Making Day 2 of any event and not prizing at all is pretty depressing and a crappy way to end a tournament. Alright, so now you know that you shouldn't skip the next TCGplayer Championship if it's anywhere close to you.
Let's move on to the deck I played at this tournament shall we?
I know, I know, it's another article on the U/G deck. This deck is so sweet though and so powerful. Outside Atarka Red I don't mind playing against any matchup at all. I ended up getting eleventh place at the tournament and just barely missing Top 8. The deck has changed some from its first iteration and I still think it needs some changes, but we'll get into that. First off I just want to talk about the deck for people that haven't played the deck before or haven't read my previous articles. After that I'll talk about potential changes I'm thinking of making to the deck and I'll explain my thought process behind it.
It's a U/G deck that is pretty resilient to discard and removal because it plays Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Den Protector. It takes the best ramp cards that are played in ramp decks and some of the best spells to flashback with Jace in Part the Waterveil and Dig Through Time. Unlike traditional ramp decks, it's hard to flood out and not have anything to do since you have so many ways to dig through your deck and loot. Part the Waterveil will kill people out of nowhere. Sometimes one is enough, but if you have multiples, it can very easily spell game over. Don't think this deck is easy to pilot, however, just because it's playing ramp spells. The deck does a lot and has a lot of decisions. So make sure you play a good amount of games before taking it to your next tournament. On the bright side though? You'll always be having a blast!
What Does It Do?
The deck plays a strange mix of ramp and and semi control to try and get to its late game plan of casting Ugin, the Spirit Dragon or an awakened Part the Waterveil. It has ramp and some Fog spells in Winds of Qal Sisma to buy you time. Nissa's Renewal also has a pseudo Fog built in since it gains you so much life. Gather the Pack plays very well with Jace, Dig Through Time, and Den Protector. The deck can also play as a superfriends deck with planeswalkers that you can protect with Winds of Qal Sisma or just take another turn and getting more value out of them with Part the Waterveil. Unlike traditional planeswalker control decks though, you have planeswalkers in play when you are ready to Fog or Time Warp because of the flip walkers. So you can flip a Jace or Nissa then cast Part the Waterveil with all your mana untapped and start getting massive card advantage out of your planeswalkers. Even if you don't have Part the Waterveil you can protect your planeswalkers with Winds of Qal Sisma.
How Are the Matchups?
I believe the deck to have good matchups across the board except against Atarka Red. I'm very comfortable playing against any deck except that one. I got two losses from playing against Atarka Red and they were all very close games and all went to three games. If you or I can solve that matchup I really think this deck could start doing extremely well. One side note though is you'll get a lot of free wins from people not knowing what your deck does or what's in it. I had two people cast Infinite Obliteration against me naming Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger even though I played none. It was a great feeling.
Now that you know a good amount about the deck I want to get into potential new cards for the deck or the sideboard. Let's go over some!
Winds of Qal Sisma: I know the main deck already had two of these cards and two in the sideboard, but I think one possibility is to cut both Gather the Packs and play all four Winds of Qal Sisma. This can make you have less explosive draws but it gives the deck a little more consistency and a better matchup agains the midrange decks and, most importantly, Atarka Red. You become almost all-in on Ugin, the Spirit Dragon though and your ramp matchup becomes worse game one. This is something I would really like to test out since Atarka Red seems like the second most played deck.
Drowner of Hope: This is a card that has been in and out of the maindeck weekend to weekend. I like the card but just found Nissa's Renewal to be better and found myself wanting Renewal over Drowner of Hope most of the games since Renewal got me to Ugin really quick and threatened an awakened Part the Waterveil next turn. However Drowner still ramped you into Ugin and stood in front of Siege Rhinos and Anafenzas pretty well. This is a good one to keep on the backburner.
Send to Sleep: Send to Sleep seems to be on par with Winds of Qal Sisma in a good amount of matchups except Atarka Red. I like Winds over it however since it is better at protecting your walkers. Send to Sleep, however, is really good against Mantis Rider, so if that ever becomes the most played deck it might be worth it to have a split in the deck.
Kiora, Master of the Depths: This was in the original list, however it was cut when I cut Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Kiora was good at making your deck explode with turn two Rattleclaw into turn three Kiora, then untapping Rattleclaw and a land then playing a Jace. It was also good to hit lands, fuel delve, and to fuel or hit Den Protector. Ultimately though I came to the conclusion that Explosive Vegetation can be just as explosive with Rattleclaw Mystic and helped out a lot more when we changed the deck to be more Ugin-centric than Ulamog-centric. If you want to add Ulamog to the deck then consider Kiora as well.
Adverse Conditions: Similar to Send to Sleep but you don't need spell mastery and it can also provide a blocker or give you that little ramp you might need for an Ugin, Dig, or Part the Waterveil. This spell also plays better with Jace, Telepath Unbound than Send to Sleep, however it does cost double the amount that Send to Sleep costs.
Deathmist Raptor: This card really needs to be tested in the sideboard. Works so well with Gather the Pack, Den Protector, and Rattleclaw Mystic. I'd want it against Jeskai, Mardu, and control decks to just grind them out since that's what they're trying to do to you and you'll offset that with Deathmist Raptor. It also makes your morph game on point and confusing your opponents on if they should kill your morph creature or not.
Retreat to Kazandu: A good card in the board that can gain you life or grow your creatures. Growing Den Protector is especially nice when you don't need the life, however we aren't playing any fetch lands and can't take full advantage of this card and that has deterred me from playing it in the past. You could play a couple of Windswept Heaths and a Prairie Stream to potentially play this card? However I really like to thin my deck of lands and if I'm playing fetch lands and battle lands I won't be able to do that as effectively.
So those are the cards that I've been thinking about for the deck going forward. If I had to play in a Standard tournament tomorrow, this is the list I would play.
I really want to just jam four Fogs and Den Protector to have a better game against Atarka Red and other midrange decks. It's not as good against control but I don't think control is really that big at the moment and after board you get a lot of game against them. Game one you have four "meh" cards in Fogs but afterwards you gain Deathmist Raptors and Pearl Lake Ancients so I think it's fine. I have one empty slot in the board because I'm not sure what I want to play in there. Third Dispel for Rally decks? Another Dig or fourth Ugin against the midrange decks? Or do I need more game against the ramp decks like another Negate or Disdainful Stroke? I'm not really sure so I'll let you guys decide what you want to play in that slot.
To ramp things up, you need to play in the TCGplayer Championship next year and you should really give this deck a shot. It's really good and a blast to play. It's also still evolving which I think speaks a lot about its potential.
Thanks for reading!
Until next time,