By Tom Vandevelde
After a disappointing finish in the Gentry Open Final, about which you can read everything starting here, I cleared my mind and switched modes, as I was playing in the Modern World Magic Cup Qualifier the next day.
SAPPY STUFF ABOUT THE TEAM: AN ASIDE ON THE WMCQ
This is not a report of the WMCQ, but I still wanted to congratulate my buddies Sander and Jaro for their awesome results at the WMCQ. They finished 10th (finishing just one spot out of Top 8, as Guy Duparq dropped from the Top 8 because he could not play for the slot due to his wife’s pregnancy) and Top 4 respectively, with Jaro losing the semi-final to eventual winner Branco Neirinck. I saw Jaro play one of the greatest games of Affinity I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch, as he won Game 3 of Round 7 with Top 8 on the line, beating Bant Eldrazi through a turn two Stony Silence in a masterful display of Magic. I cannot stress how happy I am to have these guys on Team Wrecking Ball with me, as they are great personalities as well as great players. I had tons of fun at the tournament despite going 0-2 myself, and I have my teammates to thank. Dimi man, you crack me up.
ON CASTING EMRAKUL, AGAIN AND AGAIN
After cooling down for a round (I was playing Burn after all, although I didn’t run too hot), I decided to enter the Gentry side event, picked up a piece of paper and wrote out the exact same decklist I had played the day before. I wanted to test the deck some more before I changed any more cards. Of course I also didn’t have any other cards with me.
There wasn’t much interest in the Gentry side-event unfortunately, so it got turned into a casual round-robin tournament with just four players: Bram Keukeleire, Anouk Burny, Stijn Bogaert, who had played the final on Saturday, and me. We decided to pay up and play for boosters anyway, as it’s always more fun to play with something on the line.
Round 1 vs. Bram Keukeleire (WR Valor in Akros)
Bram was playing a build of his own design that centered around Valor in Akros, the enchantment from Magic Origins that gives your creatures +1/+1 whenever a creature enters the battlefield under your control. A powerful effect, and one best exploited by putting several creatures into play at once. I was going to need to lean on my Flaying Tendrils for this one.
In Game 1, early removal as well as a Flaying Tendrils kept me at a healthy lifetotal, with Pulse of Murasa even putting me above 20 life. I managed to keep control until I played an early Emrakul, and Big Momma took the game easily.
Game 2 was a much closer affair, as Bram started out on Thraben Inspector into Topan Freeblade, into another Topan Freeblade, while I had little removal in hand. I needed to trade creatures early to stay in the game, but managed to build my graveyard all the while, resulting in an Emrakul which completely turned the game around. Attacking his board into mine left him with just one creature in hand, and he soon bowed to the will of the giant Eldrazi. She is not to be denied, that woman.
Round 2 vs. Anouk Burny (GW Humans)
Anouk was playing an aggressive deck designed by Jelle Ghyselinck. It plays several powerful humans such as Thraben Inspector and Duskwatch Recruiter alongside Hamlet Captain and a bunch of pump effects to beat the opponent down fast and hard. Me and Emrakul were not going to go down without a fight though!
In Game 1, Pulse of Murasa into Seed Guardian Emerging Vexing Scuttler getting back Pulse (are you still following?) was enough to keep my head above water while Anouk kept adding to the board. I then found Emrakul. Anouk didn’t want her to take my turn, but Big Momma was unfased and did so anyway, ruthlessly destroying Anouk’s whole board. Angry at this turn of events, Anouk decided that she at least wasn’t going to let Emrakul kill her herself, so she Pacified her. She was not pleased, so she ordered me to sacrifice her to Vexing Scuttler, only to bring her back via a returned Grapple with the Past. With the Spaghetti monster on the stack once more, Anouk admitted her defeat and bowed to the Eldrazi overlords.
Strengthened by her sideboard plans, Anouk decided to defy Big Momma once more, even after I showed her I had the card in my opening hand and was planning to cast in a few turns. She almost got away with it too, putting me down to eleven life with a threatening board of creatures. Pulse of Murasa came to the rescue once more, however. At a comfortable seventeen life, Emrakul entered the battlefield once more. Anouk again defied The Great Being, so it once again commanded me to sacrifice her to her undead servant, Sidisi, who called for Liliana. The Planeswalker, now also turned towards the dark side, returned Emrakul from the graveyard, and Anouk had seen enough. These is no messing with Mom.
This game put me at 6 Emrakuls cast in four games. I also won all four. Coincidence?
Round 3 vs. Stijn Bogaert (UR Eldrazi)
Since Stijn was already playing Eldrazi, I figured he would just concede to the might of Emrakul. Fortunately, he didn’t, because we went on to play two very interesting back-and-forth games.
In Game 1, Stijn had to keep a land with a sketchy manabase including a Holdout Settlement. Deciding to keep him off of making a second blue for Whirler Rogue, I killed his Kozilek’s Sentinel allowing my Gnarlwood Dryad (an early 3/3, after I hit 3 different types with a Corpse Churn and decided not to return a creature, thus giving me Delirium) to attack in unimpeded. He then found two Vile Aggregate into two Whirler Rogues, however, making life very difficult for me. I was lucky enough to topdeck a Flaying Tendrils, which put me back in control of the game. When I proceeded to find and cast Emrakul, Stijn responded with a smart play, flashing in Elder Deep-Fiend to tap down my board and avoid any blocks that would blow him out. He only had one turn to topdeck, however, and he could not find anything. Emrakul was still undefeated.
Game 2 was even more interesting than Game 1, as Stijn developed a board of thee Kozilek’s Sentinels and three Vile Aggregate, all of which were almost impossible for me to kill. I subdued one Aggregate with a Dead Weight, and managed to answer a first Whirler Rogue with an Aerial Volley, before somewhat stabilizing with Ishkanah, that then got taken down by an Outnumber. Double blocks with Seed Guardians and Moldgraf Scavengers allowed me to clear one of his Aggregates, and a Flaying Tendrils later got rid of both my Spider tokens and his second Whirler Rogue, which threatened to end the game. I found a Pulse of Murasa and returned Ishkanah, only to see it get Spell Shriveled, my fourth land sitting in hand. Ouch. I forgot he had those in the sideboard. Big mistake. Fortunately, Stijn could not capitalize, as I sat behind my wall of blockers and assembled Duress + Emrakul and exactly the mana to cast them. When I Duressed him, he revealed that his one card was the second Spell Shrivel. Good thing I played correctly this time. Big Momma came down and showed the rebellious Eldrazi who’s boss.
Emrakul 6, opponents 0.
I won six boosters and gave one to Bram, who finished last. In Gentry, everyone’s a winner. Emrakul commands it. I had tons of fun playing the side-event. The games were close and interesting, the opponents were great fun and I loved my deck. Gentry is great.
ON THE DECK (2)
Having played with the deck some more, I am looking to cut the Gather the Pack, which felt surprisingly underwhelming, for another Pilgrim’s Eye and possibly replace Stoic Builder with a 23rd land. Other than that, the deck felt very consistent and powerful, and I would not be surprised to see me still playing it after rotation. The deck loses very little apart from Sidisi (which is easily replaced by Traverse the Ulvenwald), Reave Soul and Caustic Caterpillar, and Diabolic Tutor seems like an interesting addition. The deck may be difficult to pilot, but it’s a blast to play.
And thus ends my four-piece tournament report. I hope you enjoyed the read. In the next article, I am looking to tackle to upcoming rotation. With Dragons of Tarkir and Magic Origins leaving the format, and Kaladesh providing all kinds of new, sweet toys to play with, the future of Gentry is looking bright as ever.
May you have opened Skysovereign, Consul Flagship at the prerelease (and then not played me),
Tom Vandevelde has been playing Magic since Tempest, and competitively since Time Spiral. Deckbuilding is his favorite part of the game, which has led to him taking an interest in less conventional formats like League Standard. Alongside his teammates on Team Wrecking Ball he is shooting for the Pro Tour, but you will just as often find him playing Pauper, Pack Wars or Mental Magic, or helping out newer players. You will often find Tom streaming on twitch.tv/wreckingballmtg, where you can actually challenge him to League Standard matches in between rounds! Be sure to come hang out and don’t be afraid to ask questions!