I was playing Standard this past Saturday at Star City Games States. I was on Esper Control and feeling pretty good about my 3-0 start. Of course, I scrubbed out hard and managed to lose the next three rounds. But, this isn’t the story of me returning to Standard and sucking at it. I’ll save that for another time. Mostly, I just bring up the tournament because Ben, my 5th round opponent had this exchange with me:

“Hey are you still taking pictures of people and writing tournament reports?”

“Uh, well, sort of. I’ve kind of taken a hiatus from writing tournament reports.”

“Oh you’re not writing anymore?”

“No, I’m still writing, just not really taking pictures or playing as much.”

“Oh, I was hoping to be E – famous.”

Then we played and he crushed me.

Aside from losing pretty spectacularly, the conversation made me feel like it’s time for me to take some goddamn pictures. While I don’t think tournament reports are the best way to communicate information, I do think that writing about local events and talking about local players encourages a feeling of community. Sometimes, “who did Shawn play?” takes precedence over, “what did Shawn play and how did he play it?”. Lots of people write about deck construction and format analysis, most of these people are pros and know more than I do about these things anyway. Not a lot of people write about the local meta in Cambridge, MA. While I think this information is a lot more specific, and perhaps less useful to people outside of the Pandemonium community, at least I’m writing about something different. Something I experienced. Something I know.

So without further ado, let’s talk about the games I played at Tuesday Night Modern at Pandemonium Books and Games while piloting Kiki- Control.

Kiki Control

Creatures (14)
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Restoration Angel
Snapcaster Mage
Vendilion Clique
Wall of Omens

Spells (20)
Cryptic Command
Lightning Bolt
Mana Leak
Path to Exile
Spell Snare
Sphinx’s Revelation
Lands (26)
Arid Mesa
Cascade Bluffs
Celestial Colonnade
Desolate Lighthouse
Hallowed Fountain
Sacred Foundry
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Sulfur Falls
Tectonic Edge

Anger of the Gods
Engineered Explosives
Izzet Staticaster
Path to Exile
Relic of Progenitus
Rule of Law
Shadow of Doubt
Stony Silence
Wear // Tear
Wrath of God

The list is very close to Shaun McLaren’s list from GP Minneapolis, which is very close to Paul Nemeth’s list I was playing before. The big difference is that McLaren trims off two Spell Snares for a Cryptic Command and a Sphinx’s Revelation and swaps aSnapcaster Mage for a Vendilion Clique. I think that these are brilliant changes and I’m upset with myself for not figuring it out. The problem with Spell Snare is that in a lot of matches, it just doesn’t do enough.  I found myself constantly siding them out and bringing in more powerful options. For a blue mage, it doesn’t get much more powerful than Cryptic and Rev. Easy swap. Having a Clique in the main is also awesome as it does everything you want to do in this deck; It synergizes with Restoration Angel, disrupts combos, gives you information, and swings for 3 in the air.

ROUND 1—Herbert with Ad-Nauseam (2-0)



One of Herbert’s friend’s shipped him the deck and told him that they would buy him a beer for every match he won. I have never been more tempted to first round scoop to someone.

Game one, I played a turn three Clique and sent his Angel’s Grace to the bottom of his library. Turn four, I played Restoration Angel and sent an Ad-Naseaum to the bottom after blinking Clique. Turn five, I played Kiki-Jiki and won.


-4 Wall of Omens
-3 Path to Exile
-1 Electrolyze
+1 Dispel
+1 Wear/Tear
+1 Counterflux
+1 Rule of Law
+1 Shadow of Doubt
+2 Stony Silence
+1 Engineered Explosives

This sideboarding plan is pretty self explanatory. You bring in stuff to disrupt their combo and take out creature removal and Wall of Omens. Some of the sideboard cards aren’t great—Explosives and Shadow of Doubt— but they still come in because they are better than the cards that come out.

Game two, I once again went in for the turn three Vendilion Clique. Herbert read the card again and asked, “What kind of ability is this?” I responded that it was a triggered ability. Then he played Trickbind, which actually marks the first time I’ve ever been Trickbound. Fortunately, I had the follow up Restoration Angel, which allowed me to see his hand anyway. For the rest of the game, I countered anything relevant and just swung in a few times in the air. The final board state looked like this:


ROUND 2—Max with Living End (0-2)


Game one, I was thoroughly dismantled by a turn three Fulminator Mage which cut me off of blue mana. He followed up with a cascade into Living End and I was left staring at my two lands and his board of monsters:


Yeah, I lost.


-4 Electrolyze
-1 Spell Snare
-1 Sphinx’s Revelation
+2 Relic of Progenitus
+1 Path to Exile
+1 Counterflux
+1 Wrath of God
+1 Rule of Law

Game two, I played a Rule of Law to stop his cascade shenanigans. He Beast Within‘ed it. Later, Max cascaded into Living End, I Remanded the End, and he Richochet Trapped my Remand. Later, I found myself in a position where I would win if I could survive a 15 point attack from Max. I attempted to flash in Snapcaster to flashback a Path to Exile, and he discarded Faerie Macabre to exile my Path. I was still able to block a creature and use another Path from my hand to stay alive, until he played Violent Eruption which gave his creatures +1/+0 and hit me for exactsies.

ROUND 3—Max with Merfolk (2-1)


After telling Max that I write for Hipsters of the Coast and giving him a business card, he told me that he was an illustrator and gave me his business card. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever exchanged business cards with another person. It’s not at all like American Psycho made it out to be. But yeah, Max designed his own playmat, which is really sweet. Here is a bigger/better image:


The rest of his portfolio is online here.

Anyway, Max was playing fish, and I found myself in the awkward position of not being able to play any islands in game one because of all his islandwalking creatures. Still, I was nearly able to stabilize, but ultimately found myself a mana short of casting Sphinx’s Revelation and Path to Exile in the same turn to stay alive.


– 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
– 2 Remand
– 1 Sphinx’s Revelation
– 1 Mana Leak
+1 Path to Exile
+1 Engineered Explosives
+2 Anger of the Gods
+1 Wrath of God

I like keeping in some counter magic, since they have a relatively low land count, but it’s really embarassing to have a hand full of counters when they have an Aether Vial active, so a few have to come out. You don’t ever want to stumble with Kiki or Rev in hand so those also come out for creature sweepers and the last Path to Exile.

Game two, Max played a Kira, which made all my removal really awkward. Then he played some merfolk lords. My only chance to win was to play a turn four Restoration Angel, and hope that I got an untapped red source to play Kiki-Jiki the following turn. Oh and also, he had to have stone nothing in his hand. No Vapor Snag or counterspells. I top decked a Scalding Tarn, fetched a Mountain, played Kiki Jiki, and he scooped up his cards.

Game three, I bolted a merfolk, then sent one on a Path to Exile, then sent another on the same path, then engineered an explosion to kill his lone two drop, then bolted yet another creature.  I won this game with a Restoration Angel and a Celestial Colonnade.

ROUND 4—Aaron with Merfolk (2-0)


Aaron asked if he could put his sunglasses on for the photo. This may be the coolest photo I have ever taken for Ensnaring Cambridge. Ray-Ban should buy this off me.

Game one, after sniping some mermen, I played a Restoration Angel and proceeded to win the game after attacking with the lone angel for seven turns. Both Aaron and I drew a million lands this game. It was anticlimactic.


– 1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
– 2 Remand
– 1 Sphinx’s Revelation
– 1 Mana Leak
+1 Path to Exile
+1 Engineered Explosives
+2 Anger of the Gods
+1 Wrath of God

Game two, Aaron once again drew a million lands and I was fly over his ocean dwelling dudes.


At the end of the night I went 3-1. More importantly though, I exchanged business cards, had some excellent games, played a deck I really enjoyed, and took pictures with my phone.

At age 15, while standing in a record store with his high school bandmates, Shawn Massak made the uncool decision to spend the last of his money on a 7th edition starter deck (the one with foil Thorn Elemental). Since that fateful day 11 years ago, Shawn has decorated rooms of his apartment with MTG posters, cosplayed as Jace, the Mindsculptor, and competes with LSV for the record of most islands played (lifetime). When he’s not playing Magic, Shawn works as a job coach for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and keeps a blog about pro-wrestling.

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