Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of the Winner’s Circle. This past Friday was our biggest FNM so far. With 118 players it was the biggest FNM in Western New York history! Was it the wings? Was it our big secret announcement? Or was it that we missed out the week before? My guess is a combination of the three plus we had lots of awesome prizes too. Well, whatever the reason for the huge turnout, Joe Baldwin ended up on top after four rounds.
He played a black/blue/green deck that he calls BUG Prophet. Here’s the list:
2x Boon Satyr
2x Prophet of Kruphix
2x Reaper of the Wilds
4x Sylvan Caryatid
4x Jace Architect of Thought
2x Doom Blade
2x Far / Away
3x Abrupt Decay
3x Hero’s Downfall
2x Cyclonic Rift
4x Overgrown Tomb
4x Breeding Pool
4x Watery Grave
3x Temple of Mystery
3x Temple of Deceit
2x Gaze of Granite
1x Jace Memory Adept
1x Vraska The Unseen
1x Trading Post
1x Pithing Needle
2x Golgari Charm
2x Mistcutter Hydra
1x Dark Betrayal
1x Curse of the Swine
1x Rapid Hybridization
Bill: Hey man, congrats on the big win! Our biggest FNM ever and you came out on top. That’s very impressive. Can you tell me how you came up with this decklist? I’ve seen Prophet of Kruphix decks before, but not like this one.
Joe: The creative process of this deck was to make something that comprises many different strategies and some of the most diverse and effective removal in the format. The power of the deck is its unique versatility and resilience to the current metagame. It also has some extremely evasive creatures and a great scry engine between Reaper of the Wilds and the scry lands. The deck also has a major advantage of being unorthodox, which makes the side boarding against it very difficult for a lot of decks.
Bill: I love that last part. Making things more difficult for my opponents by attacking them from multiple angles is something I enjoy a lot. I love it when I’ve got multiple routes to victory. So tell me what cards are important to insure the win?
Joe: The key cards are as follows, Prophet of Kruphix is able to keep pressure on no matter what phase or turn as well as make any tapped land you play, become untapped on your opponents upkeep. Unloading Planeswalkers and draw spells main phase and then having removal and counter magic on the opponents turn creates the perfect formula for control. Using her ability also allows Aetherling and Reaper of the Wilds to enter the battlefield at instant speed on your opponents turn and keep up mana to protect them at all times. Jace Architect of Thought is also a key card that allows me to reload and stall aggressive builds as I ramp into bigger threats or cards that will allow me to stabilize.
Bill: Sounds like you’ve got plans to slow down aggressive decks with Jace. What about the other matchups?
Joe: This deck has great match ups against control decks and mid-range and average match ups against most aggro decks. Having access to Abrupt Decay is pivotal against many decks in standard and is usually the number one removal spell for this deck and is complemented well by the inclusion of Hero’s Down Fall and Putrefy. Cyclonic rift is an excellent sweeper that combos well with Prophet and Thoughtseize makes for good disruption game one as well. Sylvan Caryatid makes this decks ability to color fix extremely efficient and with hexproof you couldn’t ask for more.
Bill: I’m glad to see Sylvan Caryatid getting the respect it deserves. He’s a good blocker against the creature rush decks and he’s ramp when you need it too. So did the deck work exactly as planned at FNM?
Joe: The deck performed extremely well at the event and began with round one against Green/White agro. In game 1, my hand was quite slow and could not connect to the removal spells and mana curve I wanted. So I was beat easily and we moved to game 2. In This game, I boarded into Jace Memory Adept and various sweepers and was able to mill out my opponent’s library and move to game 3. Here, my true strategy was used. Reaper of the Wilds was putting on tons of pressure and allowing me to scry into stacked draws with Jace Architect of Thought’s miniature Fact or Fiction ability. My opponent’s board state was decimated by the endless flow of removal spells and game 3 was soon over. Round 2 was against American Control (Red/White/Blue). My opponent was stuck on 3 lands and he could not prevent a Jace, Architect of Thought ultimate and we moved to game 2. This was a much better round where there were a couple of awesome counter wars while fighting over my opponent’s Jace Architect of Thought. I put on the pressure once again with a Reaper and held it down with 2 Dissolves. My opponent drew no Supreme Verdicts the game was locked up. During round 3, I played against Green/White agro a second time. A misplay cost me game 1 and his Rootborn Defenses put him way beyond me with several indestructible creatures including two Elemental Tokens created by Voice of Resurgence. Going into game 2, I made sure that I would not get set up by that again and made it a point to play around Rootborn Defenses. I was able to stall him with multiple Sylvan Caryatids until Prophet of Kruphix made an appearance. He allowed Aetherling to enter at the end of my opponent’s turn and Aetherling did what it does best: ended things quickly. Game 3 invoked a similar strategy that was used against the first Green/White agro player. Reaper of the Wilds was able to stone wall my opponent’s Voice of Resurgence and Loxodon Smiter. When an elemental token and a lone experiment one remained, I was hoping he would cast a Rootborn Defenses. So I baited him with a Reaper attack that would have put him far behind. He bit and I immediately responded with a Doom Blade to mitigate its impact on the board. Soon a monstrous Fleecemane Lion was on his board and my defenses were up due to my own dwindling life total. Luckily, a Jace Memory Adept was able to mill him out while Reaper was on defense and it was all over after that. The final round was against Junk Reanimator (White/Black/Green) which, in my opinion, is a more difficult match for my build due to the recurrence of creatures through use of Whip or Erebos and reanimation spells as well as the inclusion of evasive creatures such as Lotleth Troll and Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Game one I was quickly overwhelmed by Lotleth Troll, Voice of Resurgence and Loxodon Smiter. I was able to clear some of the creatures when Elspeth Sun’s Champion entered play. She was met with a quick Hero’s Downfall but I now had many creatures to deal with once again. The soldier tokens were dealt with by Aetherling and Boon Satyr. Through careful blocks and attacks I was able to steal the game from him with my life total at 2. We moved to game 2 and I was in the driver’s seat until an oversight allowed an Obzedat, Ghost Council to enter the battlefield followed by a Whip of Erebos one turn later. The Whip was destroyed by Putrefy immediately on my turn which was a bit awkward but necessary due to the infamous synergy with Obzedat. It took me many turns to find a Hero’s Downfall to deal with Obzedat and I had dropped to 5 life from its recurring triggers. My opponent had also placed Pithing Needle on Aetherling to cut off my win condition. Things got worse when Elspeth came once again. I was able to resolve Vraska the Unseen to deal with Elspeth and currently had a Jace Architect of Thought to stop the bleeding from his soldier tokens and Centaur Healer. The following turn I was able to play Gaze of granite for 1 destroying the Pithing needle and Elspeth tokens. This allowed Aetherling to begin working on my opponent’s life total which sat at 29. He was drawing off the top and could not make anything stick due to my own removal spells. With lethal on board he attempted to play Voice of resurgence, but it was met with Dissolve and my opponent went for the handshake.
Bill: Wow! Sounds like lots of close games. Tight play pays off. Good job! I like how this deck has answers to every card in Standard right now. It doesn’t matter what they play, you’ve got something in here to deal with it. Very impressive! So anything else you want to add before we go?
Joe: I just have to say that the night was a great success and allowed the deck to 4-0 once again. This build in tournament play currently has a record of 14-2. I am relatively new to the game and still have much to learn but I become better each time I go to FNM. I would like to give shout outs to my friend Steven and my cousin Andrew who are my MTG teammates from the “MwO”. I would also like to give a shout out to my new friend Ed, that I met at FNM. He helped me to create the original idea of the deck and I would like to thank him for the success I’ve been having. Each FNM shows me that there is always room for improvement and that to be successful at the game, you must always be learning and above all else have fun!
Bill: Sounds like you’ve got the right attitude. Magic is a game and should be played for the fun of it. If you’re not having fun playing Magic, you’re doing it wrong. So be sure to join us on Wednesday for Cube, on Friday for FNM, and this Saturday too for Legacy! Can FNM get any bigger? You’ll have to stay tuned in to find out. Or better yet, come on down and see the spectacle first hand. Who knows, you just might find yourself in the Winner’s Circle!