By Fran Olbrechts
Hi everyone! My name is Fran. Playing Magic since Origins/for a small year I’m not the most experienced of the pack, but I do have a decent Gentry record and I like to believe I brew some interesting decks. Last Gentry tournament I went 4-0 for the first time so let’s break down what I was playing: uW Tempo.
The idea came how it often comes. I’m a big SaffronOlive fan. During his “budget magic” series he presented an aggro white weenie deck based on one principle: play efficient creatures and play a lot of them. The card that symbolizes this principle is Savannah Lions, which is a 2/1 for one white mana. I didn’t want to play white weenies though, but I did see an opportunity…
Reflector Mage. From the day the card was released I wanted to build a deck it was made for: UW Tempo. Combining the Savannah Lions and the Reflector Mages seemed interesting and fun to play so I started brewing, brought the deck to last season’s last Gentry event, went 3-1, and got myself a bye in the finals! (where I got completely annihilated playing my other deck)
After the rotation and the introduction of SOI ‘uW Tempo’ received some great additions:
– Stitched Mangler: a tapper. He taps a creature and it doesn’t untap, leaving a body in the process. This is obviously great for tempo and can give your Savannah Lion(s) a ticket to life total damage (possibly twice). The fact that it enters the battlefield tapped is not a real downside in this type of deck: blocking is not what you’re going for anyway.
– Compelling Deterrence: instant speed bounce with an extra. I like bouncing creatures and again it clears the way for the Savannah Lions. But the instant speed does it for me. When it’s my turn I don’t want to “waste” mana on bounce spells; I want to play creatures and as many as I can. On their turn on the other hand… The ½ Mind Rot if you have a Stitched Mangler in play is nice and a fun little extra. (Great alternative: Just the wind)
– Thalia’s Lieutenant and Always Watching: a couple of excellent rares. Thalia’s Lieutenant has great synergy with the other creatures: 80% are Human and the Lieutenant does like Humans… Pure value. Always Watching gives +1/+1 and vigilance and although that doesn’t seem like thàt much, in fact it is. No more trading with thopters and scions, extra damage, being able to block after attacking, etc. In this deck it’s absolutely amazing.
4 Crumbling Vestige
2 Consul’s Lieutenant (U)
4 Dragon Hunter (U)
3 Expedition Envoy (U)
2 Kor Castigator
1 Kytheon, Hero of Akroas (M)
4 Reflector Mage (U)
3 Stitched Mangler
1 Stratus Dancer (R)
1 Thalia’s Lieutenant (R)
2 Thraben Inspector
4 Topan Freeblade
1 Umara Entangler
The deck is easy to explain: you want to gain tempo and you want your opponent to lose tempo. You do this by playing efficient creatures and tempo machines. The structure of the deck is adjusted to this idea: the 1 mana creatures are 2/1’s; the 2 mana creatures have an ability to become bigger or have evasiveness; the 3 mana creatures push the tempo. Put in some bounce, some team pump spells, some removal and you have a recipe for a well-balanced deck.
The curve does say a lot as well: 10 1 drops; 18 2 drops; 10 3 drops. It’s definitely a very aggressive tempo deck. Still, the nature of the 3 (and some 2) drops make this much more a tempo rather than an aggro deck.
I decided to go for 22 lands. Playing two colours 20-21 seemed a bit low, and 23-24 will just get you too many dead lands. Playing this deck I can definitely say 22 is the way to go.
– 3 drop tempo machines: Reflector Mage is a tempo beast. If I could play 8 copies; I would play 8.
– 2 drop ability guys: Topan Freeblade is a 2/2 vigilance-renown for 2 and still is a common for some reason… A card with a great ability that can get bigger is exactly what you want in this slot. I’m always happy seeing it in my hand.
– 1 drops: Honourable mention to Kytheon (a planeswalker Savannah Lions…) but it’s Gentry so Dragon Hunter. I had games where the dragon blocking was relevant.
– Pacifism is solid removal. And there’s no deck that can survive without enough removal.
– Ethereal Guidance (or Kytheon’s Tactics before) is not a super great card, but in this deck it is a-ma-zing. It easily has been the card so far that won me games the most.
1) Vicky played a RB combo-eldrazi deck. It seemed like a fun deck but not a very good match-up for me. Because of the low curve and the low cost creatures she was playing it was very difficult to tempo her out of the game. Even worse were the high (4-5) toughness creatures she started playing afterwards. On top of that, the synergy between them was not easy to deal with. Throw in an enchantment pinger and not getting through becomes deadly. Game 1 I won after a semi-long game taking control and playing Ethereal Guidance with an Always Watching on the table. In game two she got her colorless combo triggers working; that did the trick. In game three she got stuck on her mana early game and that’s something you absolutely can’t afford against this deck… 2-1 in games, 1-0 in matches.
2) Feature match time! (editors note: these will become available on youtube in the near future) Bob played the ‘UB Rise from the tides’ deck that has getting some attention lately. I didn’t know Bob but I had heard some rumours that he’s a very solid player with wacky builds. I knew however that I would have the advantage in the match-up if I didn’t go in blindly. Game 1 was the game of the night I think. I had to mulligan once, and then drew a non-ideal hand. But I didn’t want to mulligan again because it is contra productive in this deck. And then I drew a third Reflector Mage. After a couple of turns I realised he was playing the Rise from the tides deck and started playing the Mages bouncing non-existing creatures; a lot of fun ;)! Despite the slow and terrible start for me, it ended up being an exciting and very tight game. We both had a moment that would’ve ended up eventually in lethal damage. But first Bob cast a Compelling Deterrence from the graveyard bouncing one of my creatures, then I drew a Stratus Dancer that countered one of his next spells. In the end the Dancer flew and the game was over. Game 2 was finished in five minutes; Bob didn’t get his black mana in time and my hand was perfect for a sweet race. 2-0 in games, 2-0 in matches.
3) Tim played his RG landfall deck that I know well. We actually played the UW Tempo vs. Landfall match-up once during a Gentry OGW event, it is 50-50, and I knew my 3 drops/tempo machines were going to be key. The blocking part in this match-up is particularly difficult. Full attack is not necessarily the way to go since landfall triggers + pump can easily be lethal when you’re tapped out. You can’t go blind aggro here but need to time your tempo moves carefully.
Despite all this things to be weary of I was confident that I could win. Game 1 was tight but I was playing very well and in the end Pacifism and a Stitched Mangler did the trick and the Lions came through. Game 2 wasn’t great; we both had mana troubles. The deck is quite resilient against this though, and I still could play other cards so I closed out the game quickly. I ended Tim’s 6-0 win streak and got myself a tiara. 2-0 in games, 3-0 in matches.
4) The last game of the night I had to play against Thijs, one of the best players around, no doubt. I actually don’t like playing against him; he always seems one step ahead of me. This is frustrating but on the other hand it does give me an opportunity to learn a thing or two. He was playing the UR Eldrazi deck which is a bad match-up for the deck. As soon as he starts flooding the board with thopters and scions things would get ugly for me. So I needed to draw an aggressive hand, race him, or I would lose. Game 1 I had to mulligan twice because this didn’t happen (and because one land is not enough) and Thijs flooded the board, pumped his tokens with Ruination Guide ending the game rather quickly. I told Thys I had no answers for his deck, but actually had some ideas to make it interesting. I converted the deck a bit by siding in a couple of Slip through Space to be able to get creatures like Topan Freeblade and Consul’s Lieutenant renowned and lowered my curve even more. Mainly the second part helped as I was racing in game 2 and could finish the game by transforming Kytheon which enabled me to getting enough damage through, first with the +1 and then with the 0 (4/4 knight) ability. I think the Mangler did some good work there as well. Game 3 was a bit of an anti-climax. Thijs got stuck on mana pretty badly and lost the game with a ridiculous hand. 2-1 in games, 4-0 in matches.
I don’t know if the best deck won that match, the better player surely didn’t. Still I got my first 4-0 and again a lot of fun with uW Tempo.
Conclusion: Out of 4 matches I had 2 bad match-ups, 1 OK, and 1 good one. 4-0 is definitely good considering that. Still, my opponents all had mana trouble at one point, and me one or two times as well but I feel the deck is very resilient to this. I believe it does show that losing the gain lands is a bigger problem than some people think. Mono color decks (and or not splashing an extra color) should get more attention I believe. I’m sure there’s a very good red (or boros) aggro deck out there…
All in all I think uW Tempo is worth a 3-1 in most Gentry tournaments. And I’m excited to see what the deck can do against a deck like BG Sacrifice, which is probably the best at the moment. See you at the next Gentry event ;)?
Fran is a relatively new player that has taken Gentry to heart. His consistently good finishes earned him a spot all the way on top of the Gent leaderboard. To add more to this achievement, Fran is usually seen with decks he developed himself.