In my last article I covered winning and the tools needed to do so. Today I want talk about the actual work that I have been doing to prepare for Grand Prix New Jersey. Last week I presented you with this list.
When I presented this list 4C Saheeli was the 4th most popular deck on Magic Online. As I write this it now is the 2nd most popular deck making up almost 20% of the metagame. It seems I bought in at the right time. This does also mean the 4C Saheeli mirror match happens often but that is something we cover later.
I enjoyed this list for a few days but was unsatisfied with the Elder Deep-Fiends and the Sideboard. I ended up drawing the Eldrazi far too often and really only wanted it against the Control match-up or sometimes the mirror so you could tap down their lands so they could not interact when you tried to combo off. It just lost its appeal though and I liked the idea of making the deck more consistent.
This is my updated list:
There were a few minor changes in the main deck and I have been liking those so far. The mana changed and now includes Evolving Wilds which help with Aetherworks Marvel and a card in the board which we will get to later. Cloudblazer is a great value card that also pairs up well with Felidar Guardian. This list now also has an additional planeswalker in Tamiyo, Field Researcher. Tamiyo really only saw play in the old Bant Company or Bant Aggro lists but I feel like it has its place here as well. The tap down mode is useful when you actually need to attack through blockers but the card drawing mode really makes it shine. There were countless times in testing where I quickly made my way to a Tamiyo ultimate making magic awful for my opponents.
The sideboard had the biggest changes and is still getting worked on.
2 Fumigate: Sweepers are needed though these 2 cards will be replaced soon enough.
2 Baral's Expertise: This card is just great! It is good against GB and Mardu and many other decks that dump permanents onto the table. It also allows you to drop in a combo piece when the spell resolves.
2 Natural State: Great and cheap interaction for artifacts, usually brought in against vehicles and Dynavolt Tower decks.
1 Natural Obsolescence: A great answer for Scrapheap Scrounger and other artifacts that are causing you issues. It deals with cards that Natural State can’t take care of.
3 Negate: Great for the mirror and control decks. You never really want to get in a counter fight but sometimes you can just counter enough to get a combo piece to stick to help you win the game.
2 Dispel: Brought in for other decks with counters or decks with instant speed interaction. It is such a low cost and has great reward.
1 Blessed Alliance: A 1 of that can help against some less popular decks like Aetherworks Marvel or the GR Energy decks that still lurk around Magic Online. It is not fun to lose to a giant Electrostatic Pummeler or a Bristling Hydra.
1 Shock: Great to bring in against decks with small creatures and it can also disrupt the Saheeli combo of your opponent.
1 Tireless Tracker: This card is great against control and also the mirror. This is one that I would want more of going forward. It is also one of the reasons to switch to a mana base that includes Evolving Wilds.
As I said before the sideboard will continue to shift and change but I really like the counter magic and the Tireless Tracker. If 4C Saheeli continues to pick up steam, which I think it will then you need to have a good plan against the mirror.
The mirror is one of the trickier match ups because a lot of the builds can vary and you don’t really know which one to expect. Most will be a mixture of the 2 lists that I posted. Deep-Fiend still makes an appearance and can be a big problem against you. Also a lot of the decks have started running multiple copies of Chandra, Torch of Defiance. That card is not really great against other combo decks but it does generate a lot of value. This is something to think about if you want to play the deck. Moving forward I think I may want at least 1 copy of Deep-Fiend for surprise factor and to gain an edge over certain matchups. Also I want more Trackers and possibly to include Chandra. She does make your Marvel hits a lot better and she can come into play off of a Baral’s Expertise
I feel the matchup it has against both Mardu and B/G decks is why I like this deck. If they are the 2 most popular decks then I know I want to be playing Saheeli. However one thing that does make me nervous is the uptick in other combo decks. Relying on just few Negates or trying to combo off first is not the game plan I always want to be on. This deck requires a lot of practice which is something I am thankful I have been getting, but I have a lot more to do to prepare for the Grand Prix.
One of my main issues now is time and doubt. I keep wondering if this is the deck I should be taking to the GP or not. Another option I have been thinking of is a Temur Control list with Dynavolt Tower. I know having that kind of deck still gives me a favorable matchup against both Mardu and B/G but it also improves my Saheeli matchup. However time is not my ally in this and I need to soon get the cards I need for paper so I can test it before I register for Jersey.
I just want to be confident in my decision and also have a good deck online that I can start to gather wins with as well. The last time I went to a GP in Jersey I knew exactly what I was playing and knew the deck very well. I want to walk into the convention center with that same confidence and know that I have a shot to make something happen.
This next week will be spent grinding away and testing whether I stick with Saheeli or jump ship to control. I wish I could just snap my fingers and make that choice but for some reason I am really struggling with it. Please if you have any opinions let me know in the comments. I will be researching and then making the drive to a Local Game Store to trade in and purchase my new Standard deck. At that point I will be pretty pot committed to whatever I buy because my funds can only afford one deck.
I have enjoyed this process thus far and look forward to seeing what develops in this next week. Next week I will cover exactly what I played at the Grand Prix and will include a sideboard guide and the matchups I want to face. I think overall the more I talk about a deck or study a meta the more confident I feel. It causes me to really think through decisions (maybe overthink) and have a plan going forward. Thank you for reading and until next time!