When last you saw me I was preparing for the RPTQ. Sadly, I did not qualify. Let’s get the bad beats out of the way first—only I take responsibility for my lack of a Pro Tour qualification. Second Sun was my weapon of choice, with some minor changes made by me and Mike Flores.

My tournament started off exceedingly well. I won my first two matches against Temur and then won a surprising game three the next round against God Pharaoh’s Gift where I missed multiple land drops. Temur is a questionable matchup to begin with and I had never played the Jeskai God-Pharaoh’s Gift matchup prior to the event, but some simple changes to the list improved these matches greatly. Here’s the updated Approach of the Second Sun list that I played:

RPTQ Approach

Creatures (2)
Thraben Inspector

Spells (33)
Approach of the Second Sun
Blessed Alliance
Supreme Will
Cast Out
Glimmer of Genius
Hieroglyphic Illumination
Consign // Oblivion
Lands (25)
Irrigated Farmland
Prairie Stream
Ipnu Rivulet
Aether Hub

Sideboard (15)
Authority of the Consuls
Spell Queller
Linvala, the Preserver
Regal Caracal
Sphinx of the Final Word
Summary Dismissal


Replacing Unsummon with Consign // Oblivion. For one mana more Consign deals with a variety of cards Unsummon can’t. Specifically Consign can stop Chandra, Torch of Defiance or Liliana, the Last Hope from ultimating as well as bounce opposing Cast Outs. Mike and I also added one miser’s Aether Hub to cast Oblivion, since you can generate energy from your Glimmer of Genius. Might as well!

Aether Meltdown out, Thraben Inspector in. While Aether Meltdown was great the debut weekend of U/W Approach—opponents not attacking with their Meltdowned creature while I kept up Blessed Alliance—after multiple weekends with the deck gaining online popularity, the jig
was up. Thraben Inspector fills a similar role acting as a speed bump against creature decks while also providing some utility later on. The other two Aether Meltdown cuts let us play a fourth copy of both Cast Out and Hieroglyphic Illumination. I don’t think Aether Meltdown is necessarily the worst card ever, but it feels like the weakest card in the deck.

Blighted Cataract becomes Ipnu Rivulet. Blighted Cataract can virtually do nothing in a lot of matches and can even stifle your mana in some situations. In one match against Temur Energy, Ipnu Rivulet won me a game by speeding up my clock by four turns while I faced down soon to be lethal Glorybringer and Chandra, Torch of Defiance. Cataract in that spot would have surely lost me the game. With U/W Approach also gaining popularity it’s a way to have an edge in the mirror.

A new sideboard. While the majority of the sideboard stayed the same, I do want to highlight
some new additions. Spell Queller is particularly good in the mirror and against other control decks, and can also do significant damage against Ramp since a lot of their early play relies on cards like Weirding Wood and Gift of Paradise. Spell Queller was also key against my God Pharaoh’s Gift match in the RPTQ where taking out a Gate to the Afterlife bought me significant time to cast my Second Suns. With the deck becoming more popular I would consider another Sphinx of the Final Word.


At 3-0 I felt virtually unbeatable. However, in Round four I had a tough match against Ramp. I won
a very easy first game , but in game two I had few answers to a fast World Breaker followed up by Ulamog. In the final game, I made a critical mistake. I had three lands untapped, I believe an Island, Ipnu Rivulet, and Prairie Stream. In my hand I had two Approach of the Second Suns and Hieroglyphic Illumination.

My goal was to hit land drops so that after I had cast my first Second Sun, I would have enough lands to cast another even if my opponent World Breakered me once or twice. I cycled my Illumination and drew Cast Out. Only problem was I had used my Prairie Stream to cycle instead of my blue sources, and thus proceeded to untap. My opponent had the foreseen World Breaker, and took out the Prairie Stream, which was unfortunately my only white source. With Ulamog on the horizon I untapped with my six blue sources and drew and Island. I conceded to his Ulamog in hand and looked at the top card of my deck. Plains. I was heartbroken.

Following that match I mulligan against Mono Red, proceeded to win game two, only to mulligan on the draw in game three and get severely run over. I was down for the count and had lost a possible RPTQ Top 8 and shot at the Pro Tour by missing one cycle.

Going Forward

I’ve thought a lot about my strengths and weaknesses as a player since that match and looking back on past mistakes in competitive events I’ve analyzed some reasons while I fall short. I make mistakes, small enough, yet important enough to affect the outcome of the match. I miss little things, like triggers and missed damage opportunities. One reason why I think I’ve succeeded so well with decks with Descend Upon the Sinful in Standard the last couple of months is because I’m not good at creature combat math, thus I do better when playing from behind and turning a game around with a Fumigate or a 4/4 Angel token.

Sometimes in the heat of “battle” you need to slow down, take a breath, and consider what you’re about to do—it could be the difference between getting a Pro Tour Invite or walking away in defeat, knowing you could have made the right play, but didn’t. Everyone makes mistakes, but by identifying what your weaknesses are can only make you a better player if you work on correcting them.

I’m unsure if I’ll be playing Second Sun for DC but I can offer a few pieces of advices if you’re sleeving it up for this weekend. Brad Nelson’s winning Temur list from last week’s GP had not one, not two, but four copies of Negate in its sideboard. I think pre-board U/W is favored, but I’d be wary of Negate when casting Fumigate or your second Second Sun. Other U/R and U/B control variants are also gaining popularity online, so I’d want my sideboard to include some number of Dispels or more Negates for these matchups. After testing more against Mono Red I do think pre-board is difficult, but drawing any combination of sideboard cards while not mulliganing and consistently hitting land drops is the perfect recipe to defeat them. I feel fine against Zombies and God Pharaoh’s Gift, and medium against Ramp and Mardu.

Overall, I think I want more Negates or Dispels to interact with opposing counter magic when trying to cast Fumigate or Approach of the Second Sun. I’ve also noticed the growing popularity of the card The Scarab God, which ultimately is good for Second Sun since we have Cast Out in our deck. That being said, I could see cutting a Fumigate for Descend Upon the Sinful. I definitely want a Descend somewhere in the 75.

Standard is incredibly open right now. There are a variety of decks and strategies you can play and it’s hard to try and gun for a particular deck when so many decks are doing different thing. Second Sun is fun to play and has the power of ending games on the spot in especially tough scenarios. I think it’s a good deck choice nonetheless as long as you’re prepared for the top decks in the format and have a plan on how to combat those strategies. But who knows, maybe I’ll abandon everything and sleeve up some crazy green-white ramp deck Friday night. It’s not completely out of the question, and I’m tempted to give Bruna and Gisela one last hurrah.

Thanks for reading, good luck in DC!

Roman Fusco (Twitter: @Roman_Fusco) is a current film student and aspiring Magic pro living in New York City. His preferred format is Standard with the occasional Modern. His current favorite Standard card is Descend Upon the Sinful while his favorite Modern card is Deflecting Palm. 

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