For those that didn't catch any of the coverage of the Magic: The Gathering World Championships, I really do recommend it. Also, check out my article last week where I highlighted the Abzan Control deck I won the tournament with.
While I understand that many people are most interested in the Standard decks from the World Championships as that was the format used for the Top 4, the other three formats were key to my success as well. Let's go back in time to the beginning of the tournament which was Modern Masters 2015 Draft. This is a format which has been pretty popular within the past few months, especially leading up to GP Vegas. Personally the original Modern Masters draft format was one of my favorites, and the same can be said for this one. Modern Masters tends to be different from other draft formats as there are a bunch of linear archetypes, with some of my favorites being green/white tokens, blue/white affinity, red/white double strike, black/white spirits, and blue/red elementals. Out of these though, by far, the archetype that I have had the most success with is the base-green tokens deck.
Going into the Draft I didn't want to force anything but, at the same time, if the pick was close I did want to lean towards going green/white tokens. This is when the pick that would dictate the entire Draft presented itself. I opened my first booster and stared at a Hellkite Charger and a Spectral Procession. Spectral Procession is one of the best uncommons in the set, and is clearly at its best in both green/white tokens and black/white spirits. These happen to be two of my favorite archetypes, whereas Hellkite Charger doesn't easily fit into any of the top archetypes I like to draft. At the same time Hellkite Charger is a clear bomb and after talking to other pros, most people would take the Hellkite Charger. However, I wasn't willing to forego the idea of being green/white tokens and I was happy to first pick the Spectral Procession.
My second pick was Pelakka Wurm so I wanted to be straight green/white but I ended up getting a bunch of good black cards. I picked up a couple of Nest Invaders and Dread Drones but I didn't get much in terms of top end until late in the Draft. In turns out that a bunch of Eldrazi were opened in our Draft, and I was in a position to be able to use them. I was able to pick up two Ulamog's Crushers which I figured would be good enough, but then, very late in pack three, I was shipped an Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre and an Eye of Ugin! While I didn't have much experience playing with either of these cards in draft the opportunity was just too good to pass up. Being able to search up Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre essentially means that my late game was better than everyone else's. In fact, when I did cast Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in my third match versus Yuuya Watanabe it single handedly won me the game.
Starting out with a 3-0 is exactly what I wanted of course, but it wasn't entirely unexpected. Even though my Draft pod was filled with the best players in the game, I felt that Modern Masters 2015 Draft was my strongest format going into the event. With that said, the second format of the event was Modern, the format I was least comfortable with. My teammates Steve Rubin and Ari Lax had been working on perfecting a Bogles list, which I ended up playing. Bogles is a deck that had been off the radar going into the tournament, and is also a deck that has a number of great matchups. While Bogles has some great matchups there are also some pretty miserable ones, so when I found myself playing against Living End in round four I wasn't happy. Living End is a deck I wasn't expecting to see and, even though I was able to steal a game, I had no realistic chance to win the match. Little did I know that this would be my only loss of the tournament.
My expectations of playing with Bogles were low because the deck does mulligan a lot and, as mentioned before, the deck is very much good or bad based on the metagame. Luckily for me the rest of my matchups and draws in Modern were very good. I was paired against Affinity which is a matchup where I felt slightly favored, and then I beat two control decks which couldn't interact in any meaningful way with what I was doing. This is the Bogles deck which I played:
This list is a bit different from some of the ones that were popular before the World Championships. Of course the creature base is the standard one. A lot of the time when this deck mulligans it is because there is not a hexproof creature in your opening hand. There are some matchups where you absolutely need a turn one hexproof guy in order to win, and then there are other times when a Kor Spiritdancer or even fetching out a Dryad Arbor is good enough when playing against a deck without much in the way of removal. Our deck does have three maindeck copies of Path to Exile and I was very happy with that choice. Path to Exile helps make the Splinter Twin matchup good, and any other creature-based deck like Affinity has trouble beating any interaction out of the Bogles deck. I also found that it was very difficult for my opponents to play around Path to Exile because when you have a large hexproof creature in play that can become a very fast clock.
As far as the actual auras go most of the slots can't be messed around with. The deck just plays the best auras that green and white have to offer. You want at least six enchantments that gain you life, and while we tried Spirit Link it didn't have a big enough impact to warrant a slot. Besides the obvious four Daybreak Coronets we also had two copies of Unflinching Courage for an additional lifelink effect. There are also a couple of one-ofs in my list. The first is a card that the entire team played, and that is Spirit Mantle. This card is exactly what you want against any creature deck, but you never want multiples, and we decided that one was enough. I could see playing two Spirit Mantles but it gets boarded out in a lot of matchups, and is more of a misers card than anything. The other one-of is Glaring Aegis. This is a card that many players in the tournament had to ask what it does.
The first reason why I played Glaring Aegis is I don't think you need eight umbras in the deck and Hyena Umbra is the one that I was willing to cut one of. The times when your bogles actually get destroyed is rare and normally only happens when a sweeper like Damnation or Supreme Verdict is cast. I don't mind playing cards that are off the radar or other people may disagree with. Being able to tap, say, a Tarmogoyf with Glaring Aegis was very relevant as well as the extra points of toughness it provides. On the other hand this deck has eleven ways to give a creature first strike which is part of what made me willing to shave a Hyena Umbra.
The reason why I played Bogles isn't the maindeck but rather the sideboard. My first instinct was that combo decks like Goryo's Vengeance and Amulet Bloom would be miserable matchups. After seeing sideboarded games though I was completely wrong. While those combo decks didn't actually show up to the World Championships, we were ready for them if they had showed up.
The first anti-combo card is Gaddock Teeg. We are able to put auras on Gaddock Teeg so it won't die, and it is very difficult for these combo decks to do what they want while a Gaddock Teeg is I play. Even against Amulet Bloom you can simply ignore a Primeval Titan with a large Gaddock Teeg with lifelink, and of course they can't cast Hive Mind at all. Versus other combo decks you can also board in Suppression Field as there are a bunch of decks relying on activated abilities. The other sideboard cards are a little more straightforward. Leyline of Sanctity shuts down the green/black midrange strategies as well as Burn. Seal of Primordial is a flexible way to deal with artifacts and enchantments, and Stony Silence is the card that completely shuts down Affinity. Overall I was happy with the sideboard choices even though some decks didn't show up.
Going into the second day of competition I was the tournament leader, but I tried not to let it get to my head. I was the feature drafter and after first picking a Fiery Impulse I was shipped a Whirler Rogue. This was a case of being in the right seat at the right time, as anyone watching the Draft could see. Blue was clearly flowing as there was only one other person drafting the color at the table. Blue is a bit underpowered in Magic Origins draft but anytime you find yourself in an underdrafted color like this, it can be a huge payoff. I didn't have to fight with anyone close to me for the blue card. While blue was clearly underdrafted I wasn't sure what my other color would be as going into pack three I had a couple good black cards and a couple good red ones.
Pack three was the payoff pack as when I got my second Whirler Rogue fourth pick I knew I was doing something right. I also opened bomb rares that were on color in Soulblade Djinn and Chandra's Ignition, which solidified my decision to be blue/red. As LSV said himself, the deck ended up about a ten out of ten. Though I didn't have many two-drops I found that my Thopter generators helped allow me to stabilize if my opponent got off to a quick start. I also valued the bounce creatures I got in Harbinger of the Tides and Separatist Voidmage very highly. The feeling of drafting this deck while being 6-1 at the World Championships was great, but I also knew I would have to play tight.
My first match versus Martin Muller was the closest one I had in the Draft. I took it in three games. Over the course of the event I will say that there were a few different times my opponent made a play mistake, or a play that ended up working out poorly, and that just goes to show even the best players can make errors. After the draft I was essentially a lock for Top 4, and I was just playing out the rest of the rounds for Pro Points and seeding. Going 6-0 in Limited helped ease the pressure on Constructed and helped me gain the confidence I needed for Standard. Limited is also sometimes overlooked but my Ddraft record was key to doing so well, and half the formats of the tournament were Limited.
Thanks for reading,