This weekend was pretty swell. The Pro Tour was a blast to watch, particularly watching Living End and UWR (my two favorite decks) do so well. The weather was warm enough for me to return to bike riding (by far the best part of the week). And of course, I got in some sweet, sweet drafting with more gimmick decks!

UB Mill/Control

Lands (18)
10 Swamp

Creatures (16)
Baleful Eidolon
Returned Phalanx
Shipwreck Singer
Felhide Minotaur
Nyxborn Triton
Disciple of Phenax
Erebos’s Emissary
Insatiable Harpy
Thassa’s Emissary
Gray Merchant of Asphodel
Mnemonic Wall
Phenax, God of Deception
Marshmist Titan

Spells (6)
Voyage’s End
Hero’s Downfall
Sudden Storm
Sea God’s Revenge
Sideboard (20)
Crackling Triton
Rescue from the Underworld
Sealock Monster
Returned Centaur
Eye Gouge
Archetype of Imagination
Sphinx’s Disciple
Chorus of the Tides
Stratus Walk
Aqueous Form
Prescient Chimera
Breaching Hippocamp
Grisply Transformation
Peak Eruption
Witch’s Eye
Ephara’s Enlightenment
Leafcrown Dryad
Pharika’s Mender

You may notice a bunch of decent blue flying creatures in the board and the duo of Mnemonic Walls in the main deck. I felt that this deck had such powerful spells to recur and such a good long game (between its enchantment creatures) that there was no need for four and five drops that didn’t block well.

Round one was the third most memorable match of Saturday (and absolutely fantastic—it was a wild day), where I played against Jacob’s sick UB control deck. Yes, there was a control mirror in our ten person Born of the Gods pod. Jacob had far more cheap creatures and a powerful top end in Shipbreaker Kraken, Abhorrent Overlord, and Arbiter of the Ideal.

Game one was decided by Phenax, God of Deception (whom I continually incorrectly write as “Phenax, God of Decepticons”) backed up by my pile of removal. Game two saw Jacob board in Psychic Intrusion and me remove my cheap, defensive creatures for Sealock Monster and Returned Centaur. He cast Abhorrent Overlord for free off of Arbiter of the Ideal after stealing my Sea God’s Revenge with Psychic Intrusion and ripping my Phenax away with Thoughtseize and that was game two.

For game three, with the board being my Omenspeaker against his lands, I intentionally cast Phenax into his waiting Dissolve. By the time he had Psychic Intrusion online, I’d used my sideboard tech, Rescue from the Underworld, to save my Phenax from being scooped out of the graveyard. Generally, I hate Rescue, since it’s usually a win-more card or a bad reanimation spell, but in this control mirror, I liked being able to rebuy anything he could kill, counter, Thoughtseize, or steal between Mnemonic Wall, bounce, and reanimation. It was an intense match and I thank Jacob for his strong play and excellent attitude.

After that, I played against Stefan’s WRu aggro (with Hammer of Purphoros) and removed Phenax to better withstand an early assault. Stefan fell pretty far behind on mana, I kept my life total high and bestowed all of my Emissaries, and the second round was done. Stefan’s a good guy (who demolished me the day before with Elspeth, Sun’s Champion) and I look forward to our next match.

With that, I split the finals (my opponent had to run and though I wanted to keep playing with Phenax, I didn’t need to ruin someone’s night). With those packs won, I went to my third and final draft of Saturday, and what a doozy it was!

Chromanticore on a Snake... wait, what?

Lands (19)
Unknown Shores

Creatures (12)
Sedge Scorpion
Wavecrash Triton
Agent of Horizons
Nylea’s Disciple
Mnemonic Wall
Nessian Asp
Snake of the Golden Grove
Mistcutter Hydra

Spells (9)
Traveler’s Amulet
Destructive Revelry
Nylea’s Presence
Voyage’s End
Plea for Guidance
“Relevant” Sideboard Cards (3)
Stymied Hopes
Read the Bones
Satyr Hedonist

…yeah, I did it again. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Chromanticore. The card is so strong, such a challenge to make work, and such a beating/achievement when it does work. Having it in my deck is a visceral experience that has me giggling like Gibbering Hyenas. Compared to last week’s Chromanticore deck, this one had no ramp, better fixing, worse stalling, and much better stabilization. I had three, three Nessian Asps, a fair amount of life gain, and tons of power. The entire point of the deck was to get to five mana, then deploy or monstrify a powerful snake every turn for the rest of the game… unless I was bestowing Chromanticore. The greediest thing in the deck, funnily enough, wasn’t the Chromanticore, but Plea for Guidance, which could only find Chromanticore and Nylea’s Presence. So… how’d it work?

Round one, we had memorable match #2 against a friend I don’t often see, Michael, and his WU heroic deck. In game one, he applied a ton of pressure, getting me down to three life, but a pair of Nessian Asps, Nylea’s Disciple, and a life-gaining Snake of the Golden Grove brought me up to a healthy twelve life. I cast a Mistcutter Hydra for ten, and Michael, having only blue creatures, could only watch as it snapped his life up in two quick swings. In game two, the miracle happened. I cast Chromanticore on turn five (a statistical abberation, I assure you). I didn’t attack with it into his Divine Verdict mana (which turned out to be a Griptide), cast Snake of the Golden Grove, and the following turn redrew and bestowed Chromanticore. Turns out Akroma with lifelink is pretty nuts.

In round two, I played against Brook’s RW heroic deck. Brook got major props for passing me Chromanticore (even though it’s the right move to pass it, I still appreciated it). In game one he resolved a pair of Wingsteed Riders, bestowed one with Speapoint Oread as I cast Nessian Asp. The following turn, he bestowed Celestial Archon on the other, attacked, I cast Destructive Revelery on his archon and ate the 3/3 rider. After that, his 5/5 flying first strike Baneslayer Angel/Wingsteed Rider couldn’t match my 8/9 Nessian Asp and I turned the game around with five drop after five drop. Game two he had a slow start, I had Nessian Asp, and that was game. Again, I split the finals with an opponent (this time, the one and only Hugh Kramer) who wanted to head out and eat dinner. So I played a friend from improv, Adam. He and I had never played paper Magic before. And here’s what happened, in a nutshell.

Adam resolved Kiora, the Crashing Wave, blanking my only creature, Nessian Asp and bouncing my other. I’ve cast Plea for Guidance, fetching Chromanticore and Nylea’s Presence. He can’t ultimate Kiora without losing her and her ability to stop Chromanticore. I can’t bestow Chromanticore until I have a second creature to play around Kiora’s bubbling effect. In the end, I get my second creature and he ultimates Kiora, leaving her at one loyalty, and has eight toughness of blockers. I bestow Chromanticore onto Nessian Asp (which isn’t monstrous), attack Kiora, Voyage’s End one of his blockers, and trample takes care of the rest. I monstrous my Asp and attack for twelve lifelink vigilance trample flying reach first strike for the rest of the game. I think my final life total was somewhere around sixty while he ended the game with almost that much power in krakens. Chromanticore is quite the card.

Ah, another weekend, another fun with silly mythic rares. I wish that they printed more of these gimmick cards at lower rarities, but that’s a story for another day. As always, thanks for reading and thanks for playing! Wishing you all the best and best of luck at GP Richmond!

—Zachary Barash — Join the livestream!

Magic Online username: Zennith

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner and performer, improvising entire musicals every week with his team, Petting Zoo. Zach has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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