Welcome back for the 9th edition of The Rogue Report. I’m Cody, and this week I’m going to be talking about my run at Grand Prix Toronto 2018, as well as announcing some new changes and discussing non-play related happenings of the weekend.
For GP Toronto I decided to stick with what I knew best, regardless of how I thought it was positioned in the current Modern meta. Traditional Living End is close to my heart and I’ve put up some of my best results with the deck. It’s fun, consistent and surprisingly resilient. I don’t mind having Living End on The Rogue Report as it’s not a big enough chunk of the meta to expect to play against. The one thing that had been bothering me about the deck though, is that it doesn’t really have a great plan B. Sure, don’t get me wrong… I’ve played my fair share of Living End, and I’ve taken games with Simian Spirit Guide/Faerie Macabre beats. Something about casting Desert Cerodons for 6 and Monstrous Carabids for 5 hurts my heart. Surely there are better ways.
This led me to Drake Haven. The reasoning for going with Drake Haven as an alternate wincon was partially influenced by Architects of Will. I wanted to include a win condition that didn’t require me to use the graveyard, and this one seemed not bad. Usually a Living End deck has 18+ cycle cards, and with 2-copies of Drake Haven and additional cycle cards it started to look very appealing. Little did I know it would come in handy in way more interesting ways than I thought. The thing about Architects of Will is I think the ability is very underrated. I see Living End players cutting them or skimping on them, but in my case if I’m splashing blue for Drake Haven, if the hard cast plan is a thing I also have access to Architects of Will on turn 4. This card usually can’t be cast in Living End, so it’s nice to have the option. Getting to mind game the top 3 cards of your opponents library can be powerful, as is arranging the top 3 cards of your own deck.
Here’s what my list ended up looking like:
So I got to the Grand Prix early on Friday as I had a friend that drove who was playing an all day event. I was staying in Toronto at another friends place for the weekend, so I caught the early ride in. The first mistake of the whole tournament I made was before the tournament even started. For some reason I was convinced fully that you could earn points on the Friday of a Grand Prix to count towards byes. This was not the case, byes are locked on the Wednesday before a Grand Prix. Luckily, I don’t foresee this being a problem for me again but I came up just short of two byes. The more you know.
Round 1: BYE (1-0)
Round 2: 2-0 vs. Burn (2-0)
I wasn’t particularly impressed that I was playing this round. Luckily, there was a friendly face across the table. My opponent was Shaun Kocher, a Burn player representing KW Playspace. I’m not entirely sure if Shaun knew what I usually played, but we have some mutual friends; it just so happens he was showing our mutual friends his deck before the Grand Prix and I was apart of this. Not that it really mattered overall, but I believe I had my singleton Shriekmaw and a reasonable hand otherwise for my opener, and knew the Shriekmaw could go a long way preventing recurring Goblin Guide damage. This is a tough one for Living End pre-board and unfortunately for Shaun with myself at 9 life I was able to close out game 1. Also worth noting Shaun flooded out horribly. Game 2 was looking promising for Shaun, but I was able to draw into one of two copies of Gnaw to the Bone and turn the game in my favor.
Round 3: 0-2 vs. Eldrazi Taxes (2-1)
There’s not really much to go over here. Game 1 the only note I took was “Thalia, Guardian of Thraben‘d”. It’s a little rough to get through this with Living End as it makes Violent Outburst now cost 4, and Living End cost 1. It turns our turn 3 combo into a turn 5 combo, not including any Simian Spirit Guide shenanigans. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is one of the reasons I have a singleton Shriekmaw in the main board. There’s only one because I had a hard time making space, but it takes care of huge problems for the deck (ie. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Meddling Mage).
Round 4: 2-0 vs. R/B Hollow One (3-1)
This ended up being probably my favorite match of the day. Game one was interesting because my opponent cycled some early Street Wraiths and made me question whether I’d be able to Living End early and profitably. My opponent chipped away at me with a Flameblade Adept for a few turns but I was able to get a turn 3 Fulminator Mage to leave them on one land. I purposely kept them on their Blood Crypt rather than Stomping Ground because Swampwalk would be relevant; especially when they’ve got just as big a ‘yard as I do. Turns out, swampwalk came up big here, as I was able to Living End back triple-Street Wraith + Faerie Macabre for lethal (opp. at 10) at the end of their turn.
Game 2 was the same early on as I got beat down for a few turns by Flameblade Adept. I wasn’t quite sure what tools this deck had to use against me, so I ended up bringing in Krosan Grip and Drake Haven content. This is where it got interesting. I didn’t purposely have Drake Haven in my board for this match up but it came up big. Long game – short story, I have a Drake Haven in play, my opponent is at 12 life, I’m at 12 life. I’m speculating that my opponent was wrong in their assumption of the text of Drake Haven, but he cast a Burning Inquiry. I had 4-mana up. This resulted in us both drawing and discarding 3 cards, as I payed 3 mana (1 mana, 3 times) to make 3 flying, 2/2 Drake tokens. From here it was clean up.
I can only guess, but I think my opponent thought Drake Haven could only be activated when I cycled.
Round 5: 2-1 vs. Jund (4-1)
Another friendly face. This round it was Phillip, a player I see semi-frequently when I travel to Niagara Falls. I wasn’t quite sure if i remembered correctly, but I had a hunch he was on Jund. Game 1 was relatively easy to clean up as I Fulminator Mage‘d lands on turn 3 and 4.
Game 2 I took an L and apparently didn’t take any notes. Phillip goes from 20 life to 18, then 22, 25. I’m pretty sure he Scavenging Ooze‘d turn 2 or 3 and crushed my soul.
Game 3 got interesting. I don’t think I had seen any graveyard hate other than Scavenging Ooze from Phillip yet, but I was convinced there was more. This led me to board in Krosan Grips and a single Drake Haven. Phillip was actually able to somehow get his graveyard to a profitable position against me, so it came down to me chump blocking a Tarmogoyf for 3 turns as I cycled and made Drakes until my graveyard was too much for him to handle. The accidental Drake Haven save.
Round 6: 1-2 vs. Traverse Shadow (4-2)
Yet ANOTHER friendly face. This time it’s Malcolm from KW as well, I believe. I see this guy every once in a while and it’s always a good time. Super friendly dude, decent player, wouldn’t have it any other way.
Game 1 ends completely to my surprise. Malcolm is usually a very solid player and definitely has experience playing Living End himself. Somehow, with him completely in the driver’s seat, I Hail Mary an end of turn Violent Outburst at a single Death’s Shadow board, with his single Watery Grave up and Stubborn Denial ready and waiting. To my surprise, he jumps too quick and Stubby D’s before I cascade into Living End. He countered my Violent Outburst, I continue’d to cascade and clean up.
Game 2. I can’t be 100% sure what I took in and out here, but I for whatever reason, took out a Living End to make space. Awkwardly enough Malcolm taps out at a point in the game where if I had a Living End left in deck I absolutely just win. Unfortunately, I had already cascaded into one, and drew the other one. And it’s like turn 5. Ripperoni.
Game 3 I don’t have specific notes for, but it was a grind to the end. Malcolm at one point in this game had two threats in play and I had a solo Swampwalking Street Wraith. There was a turn where I didn’t attack with it because I accidentally said “Go” too fast without considering life totals. We ended the game with him at 3. I done goofed again. Overall, for Malcolm and I this match was incredibly loose and the wear of the day seemed to be showing in both of us.
Round 7: 0-2 vs. Bogles (4-3)
I thought I was getting a free win here. My opponent hadn’t showed up at the start of the round, but a judge approached me and said his deck had been misplaced. He would not be receiving a penalty. Fair enough, haha.
My opponent ends up making it over and we got a time extension. No big deal. He rolls out a Pro Tour Bilbao play-mat in front of me. Cool, must be a pretty good player. It is Round 7 and we’re still in it after all. Now I’m not judging because I play hokey decks, but let me tell you what kind of surprise I got when my opponent went “Land, Bogle, go.” This is a crazy format. I haven’t faced the same deck all day.
Ever punted yourself out of contention?
Game 1 should have been an easy one for me as I had all the tools. I didn’t know I was playing against Bogles, but I did keep a hand with a Faerie Macabre and a Demonic Dread in it. I should have time to hard cast the Faerie Macabre on turn 3, target it with Demonic Dread on turn 4 and business as usual from there. Well, maybe it was the wear of the day, maybe I just wasn’t thinking at all… but I promise you I’ve played Bogles and I know what Spider Umbra does. Cue the sad music. I got greedy and attacked with Faerie Macabre on turn 4, and to my surprise my opponent jumped all over it and quickly blurted out “block!”. Not the best play I’ve ever made in my life.
Soooooooo darn slippery!
Game 2 got down to a very awkward position and I was very unlucky I think. I ended up exhausting all 3 of my copies of Living End this game wiping my opponents creatures away. This resulted in a sequence of turns where we did the Draw, Go dance. My opponent sticks a Dryad Arbor. I top deck and stick a Simian Spirit Guide to block. I’m at 1, he’s at 12. I have 2 Drake Havens on the battlefield. Our Dryad Arbor and Simian Spirit Guide eye each other up for four turns of draw, go nonsense, until my opponent finally breaks trend and casts a Rancor. As a nod to potential counter magic coming in, I use a single boarded in Ricochet Trap to change the target of Rancor to my Simian Spirit Guide. Unfortunately, my opponent has his 4th (maybe 3rd?) Path to Exile of the game and exiles my dude. It’s either he tramples over for the one, or Path to Exiles first and gets the whole thing through.
Four turns of Draw, Go with two Drake Havens in play and not seeing any of 24 possible cycle/discard cards seems like horrible luck, but we can also chalk this one up to my big punt in game 1. My opponent was NOT the Bogles player who ended up winning the Grand Prix.
Round 8: vs. G/B Elves (5-3)
A little disappointed in the last round and being dead for day two, I didn’t really take any notes this round.
Game one my opponent killed me with a Shaman of the Pack out of nowhere as I tried to Violent Outburst EoT.
Luckily games 2 and 3 he did not get off to great starts and I was basically in full control of the board. Nothing ever got out of control and I was able to OTK him with a huge graveyard in both games.
Overall, not a terrible showing. I was pretty unhappy to not make day 2, but it really felt like it was only due to my own mistakes. I could have had a second round bye if I payed attention to tournament structure better, and I made a few in game blunders that I usually wouldn’t make. It was a great learning experience of a tournament for me though, and I see it overall as a major positive. I learned that my level of preparation was too low. I procrastinated too long on choosing a deck; so much that I decided the Friday morning I left as I built the deck at 3am. Just bad practice.
On the Sidelines
I usually wouldn’t write about things that aren’t in-game related, however I wanted to send a special shout out. I’ve always enjoyed the art of Magic: the Gathering and was approached by an artist at the GP who does alters. I took a shot of some of my favorites from his binder and will post his contact info below. This is the work of Coulter Baker, of Alpha Omega Alterations!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a better quality shot than this one. The picture above shows Zo-Zu the Punisher, Shattergang Brothers, Experiment Kraj, Rakdos Charm and Sensei’s Divining Top by Coulter Baker. His work is fantastically done and is rather affordable at $25+the value of the card.
If you’re interested in commissioning any works or buying some of his currently finished, get a hold of him at:
This time around, I learned proper preparation goes a long way. Take your time, breathe, and don’t attack Faerie Macabres into Spider Umbras. The basics, y’know? I had a great time at this Grand Prix and especially spending time with my buddy Doug, whose roommates Kelsey, Chris and Steve never mind me coming into the city to play a tourney and couch-crash. They’re the real MVP’s.
I also want to note that this is going to be the last edition of The Rogue Report here at MTGDeckTechs.com.
I am lucky enough to have been offered a spot writing for MTGCanada and The Rogue Report and I are heading that way.
I can’t just leave all my friends here at MTGDeckTechs though. I’ll be back, almost as frequently with a new article series soon!
I will not be able to explore a wider variety of topics in my writing here and experiment a little bit with some of my own personal deck projects.
Thanks for dropping by, and much love for all the advice and support thus far.
I really appreciate anyone that views and enjoys my writing.
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Thanks again and I’ll see you soon!