Diary of a Madman
Some of you may have read my previous article “Can I Play with Madness”, a primer on my B/R Madness list for Modern. I ran the deck at a Modern Sunday Showdown at Face to Face Games Toronto to some amount of success. I ended with a measly score of 2-3-0, which is not overly impressive. The part that impressed me was how well the deck performed overall. I rarely felt like I didn’t have the potential to suddenly just come back and end the game. I only had one match where I constantly felt like I was on my back foot just holding on. I’m confident after this weekend that with a few tweaks the deck will have the ability to top 8 in today’s Modern meta.
The list I was running on Sunday, in my opinion, wasn’t 100% optimised. I was lacking Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Ghost Quarter, Boil and Pithing Needle. The first three cards just flat out weren’t available to me at the time. The Pithing Needle I decided, for some strange reason, I didn’t need for the day. I regretted that decision multiple times.
My list for the day was as follows:
Overall, I feel the deck performed very well. I had a few incidents of mana problems but no more than with any other deck I’ve ever played. One of my losses came down to my opponent just drawing better top decks than me, one to a really bad matchup, and the last to some really bad play errors on my part.
Round 1: Tron 1-2-0
My first-round opponent was playing R/G Tron, a deck some consider functionally dead since the banning of Eye of Ugin. In its place the deck now runs one or more Sanctum of Ugin to find finisher creatures like World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Our deck seems to be at a disadvantage against Tron, much like other BG/x strategies. The factor that evens the match out that other decks don’t have is Demigod of Revenge. This card catches everyone off guard, including Tron. If they can’t deal with it immediately, even one Demigod of Revenge can take over the board and ruin their plan.
Game one was pretty standard. They assembled Tron on turn three. I spent way too many resources trying to keep their bombs off the board and in their graveyard, but in the end Karn and World Breaker took over the match.
Game two I got very lucky as they didn’t get their first Tron piece online until turn three after a mull to five. I was able to cut them off resources long enough to kill them with Shadow of Doubt and finished the game off with a swing from double Demigods of Revenge.
Game three became a foul grindfest with Liliana of the Veil and Karn Liberated controlling the field. The end result was 2-1, with Karn minusing to remove Liliana followed by me never succeeding in getting a real threat out to close out the game.
Current standing: 0-1
Round 2: Naya Scapeshift 2-1-0
My second-round opponent was playing a brew of his own: a RG Titan Scapeshift shell splashing white for Path to Exile and Lightning Helix.
Game one started out as usual with them ramping and me discarding valuable cards. I curved into a Liliana of the Veil right on time on turn three. My opponent discarded a Scapeshift since they didn’t have enough land to effectively cast it. They were holding a Primeval Titan, which they promptly cast on their turn. ramping them into lethal Scapeshift mana. I used Liliana’s plus one to enable a double Fiery Temper to take out his Primeval Titan and continued beating down with Bloodghasts and Call the Bloodline vampires to pull myself out of danger from a Scapeshift. Turn five brought with it multiple Demigods and lethal damage.
Game two saw a pathetic display from my deck with me stuck on two lands for 5 turns. With that much time available against Scapeshift I should have been able to destroy them. Prismatic Omen into Scapeshift ultimately spelled the end for game two.
Game three my deck couldn’t have drawn better. Turn two I cast double Thoughtseize taking away a Primeval Titan and a Pithing Needle. I proceeded to get down to Bloodghast beats, followed by stopping their Sakura Tribe Elder from searching after blanking a Bloodghast with a Shadow of Doubt. I closed out the game by Extirpating away the Primeval Titans and casting Stain the Mind to remove all copies of Scapeshift, leaving Obstinate Baloth and Valakut as his only outs. In the end that wasn’t enough as Bloodghasts greedily sucked their life away.
Current standing: 1-1
Round 3: Eldrazi and Taxes 2-1-0
My third-round opponent was running a deck similar to black/white hate bears but with a few Eldrazi for utility. The deck gained value by using Eldrazi Displacer to blink Wasteland Strangler or Blade Splicer while Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Leonin Arbiter, and Aven Mindcensor limited the opponent’s options.
Game one was an immediate grind fest. My opponent rapidly brought me down to eight while I got my Zombie Infestation online. I was armed with an opening hand of two fetchlands, two Squee, Goblin Nabobs, Zombie Infestation, and two Gorgon Recluses. I promptly dropped Zombie Infestation on turn two and started the value train with Squee, Goblin Nabob and all my other madness cards. The game became a run of draw-go, make zombies, draw-go. flicker blade splicer for value. Eventually I drew my third Squee and started to overwhelm my opponent’s board state. Inevitability took hold with me digging through my deck until I finally got Demigod of Revenge online.
Game two hardly requires mentioning. I drew nothing and my opponent closed out the game in a swift four turns. His Aether Vial and low cost creatures quickly left me valued out. Game three my opponent got stuck on two lands for four turns in a row. I kept a hand with 3 land, 3 Demigod of Revenge, and 1 Call the Bloodline. With my opponent unable to put pressure on me, I had all the time I needed to set up a triple Demigod of Revenge kill.
Current standing: 2-1
Round 4: Merfolk 0-2
This match was a nightmare for me. Fish has everything I don’t want to deal with. The deck goes fast enough that I often can’t get my Demigods of Revenge online. Even if I did have time, their playset of Spreading Seas makes it extremely difficult to get the five coloured sources needed to cast Demigod. My life gain off Call the Bloodline becomes quickly irrelevant because the one life I gain doesn’t deal with how rapidly Merfolk get big and I can’t chump block creatures with islandwalk when they put Spreading Seas on my lands.
Game one Aether Vial pumped out creatures faster than I could deal with them and gave my opponent the freedom to keep me off double black the entire game. Four turns later we proceeded to game two.
Game two we got moved on camera. Looking back at the footage, I have no one to blame for this loss but myself. I slow rolled the match. Between that and making some bad Thoughtseize choices it was a clear cut loss.
I led the game off with a Lavaclaw Reaches and they led off with a Cursecatcher. I proceeded to play another tapped land instead of playing any other land and running out my Call the Bloodline. Here was my first mistake. My opponent dropped a Master of the Pearl Trident and swung in for two. I untapped, played an untapped Blood Crypt, and passed the turn, holding up mana to Lightning Axe the Master of the Pearl Trident and stick down a Gorgon Recluse to block. My opponent ruined this plan by dropping Kira, Great Glass Spinner, forcing me to Lightning Axe in response. My opponent clearly didn’t swing into the gorgon. I untapped, played a tapped land, and cast Thoughtseize. My opponent revealed Tidebinder Mage, Lord of Atlantis, Spreading Seas and Master of Waves. I chose the Master of Waves out of habit, completely forgetting about the Spreading Seas and the Lord of Atlantis. I cast a Call the Bloodline and passed the turn. My opponent played Spreading Seas followed by Lord of Atlantis and the game was done from there. I had only two cards left in my deck that would win me the game: both copies of Biting Rain. I checked after the match to see how far down a Biting Rain was and I was never finding it.
Current standing: 2-2
Round 5: UB Tezzerator 1-2
I still have no read on how this matchup should be. It always ends in a beautiful grind fest. I run so much artifact removal in the both the main and side boards that the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek loop can be easily stopped. I also run a high number of graveyard removal cards in the board to stop Sword of the Meek and Academy Ruins. An interesting card in this matchup that people seem to forget works is Torpor Orb. Torpor Orb cancels out Sword of the Meek’s ability to return from the graveyard since it triggers off a 1/1 creature entering the battlefield.
Game one we both started off slow establishing our individual engines. I start with a turn one Lavaclaw Reaches into turn two Thoughtseize and a second tapped land. My opponent reveals 3 land, Liliana of the Veil, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, and Sword of the Meek. I took the Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas since my opponent doesn’t care if the Sword of the Meek is in the yard and Liliana of the Veil enables me. The game continues with some back-and-forth engine building until I drop a Demigod of Revenge. I come in with Demigod and a Gorgon Recluse, bringing my opponent to 7. The game looks locked for me until they drop an Ensnaring Bridge. I play a Liliana of the Veil and proceed to aggressively plus her to get to her ultimate.
At the point where I activated Liliana of the Veil’s ultimate my opponent’s board state was: two Ensnaring Bridge, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Academy Ruins, Thopter Foundry, Talisman of Dominance, Executioner’s Capsule, Island, Swamp, two Watery Graves and a Blinkmoth Nexus. In response to me activating Liliana of the Veil’s ultimate they sacrificed the Talisman to Thopter Foundry to get a Sword of the Meek out of the graveyard then proceeded to sacrifice the Sword of the Meek four times. I made one pile with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, 2 Ensnaring Bridge, and Thopter Foundry, putting everything else in the other pile. I blanked when I forgot to add the Academy Ruins to the pile with the Bridges. For obvious reasons, my opponent opted to keep the pile with the Ruins. This cost me game one.
Game two progressed almost identically, except when I activated Liliana of the Veil’s ultimate I remembered the Academy Ruins. My opponent’s board state was two Talisman of Dominance, Thopter Foundry, Academy Ruins, Ensnaring Bridge, Island, Swamp, and a Ratchet Bomb on one. In response they sacrificed Ensnaring Bridge, Thopter Foundry, and Ratchet Bomb to the Thopter Foundry. I chose to put Academy Ruins and three Thopters in one pile and everything else in the other pile. They kept the Academy Ruins and Thopters. The game went over to draw, attack, go, with me attacking with a Lavaclaw Reaches and them attacking with Thopters. After I used Extripate to remove all copies of Thopter Foundry and Ensnaring Bridge, game 2 ended with my opponent at two life with no way to stop a Bloodghast and a Squee, Goblin Nabob from hitting them.
Game three resulted in my opponent curving perfectly into Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and an Ensnaring Bridge. I kept a hand of five lands, Thoughtseize and Zombie Infestation, planning to Thoughtseize turn one to look for problems, drop Zombie Infestation turn two, and proceed to make all the zombies. This went horribly awry when my Thoughtseize failed to stop anything. I cast the Thoughtseize to find Liliana of the Veil, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Talisman of Dominance, Watery Grave, and Spellskite. I took the Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas in an attempt to slow down the speed at which they could find their engine because there wasn’t anything I else overly cared about. My opponent proceeded to draw Inquisition of Kozilek, Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, and Ensnaring Bridge. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver prevented me from ever successfully getting anything useful on the board and a Grafdigger’s Cage stopped me from efficiently digging for outs. The game ended with my opponent blowing up their own Ensnaring Bridge and swinging at me with my own Demigod of Revenge.
Final standing: 2-3
I feel the deck performed exactly how I intended it to. Mana issues were a minor problem, but I feel the only thing keeping me from a few more wins was poor choices on my part. In the future I intend on adding a Ghost Quarter, Pithing Needle, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and Boil. I may try and find various cards to get more reach against cards like Ensnaring Bridge.
Until next time, and keep watch for my next brew whenever that insanity strikes me.