ViashIANo – Qualifiers “Part 1”

Welcome back! I have another tournament report for you. This time it’s a weekend of National Qualifiers. Now there was a tournament a week before this one at Pop Culture Paradise that I did attend. Refusing to say die I went 3-4 in the seven rounds of swiss with a BUG Vengevine deck that abused the use of bringing creatures back from the graveyard. After the tournament I took a step back and analyzed why the deck did not perform consistently. With only a week to prepare I needed to find something to play. About half way through the week it hit me, and this is what I came up with.

Creatures (30)
Birds of Paradise
Fauna Shaman
Renegade Doppelganger
Cunning Sparkmage
Hero Of Oxid Ridge
Trinket Mage
Manic Vandal
Frost Titan
Lotus Cobra

Spells (6)
Lead The Stampede
Basilisk Collar
Brittle Effigy

Lands (24)
Copperline Gorge
Raging Ravine
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Sideboard (15)
Obstinate Baloth
Mark of Mutiny
Phyrexian Revoker
Manic Vandal
Basilisk Collar
Sylvok Lifestaff
Inferno Titan
Tunnel Ignus


I guess the screaming difference in the deck is I dropped black for red. I found that my BUG Vengevine deck had serious trouble with opposing creatures both getting rid of them and defending against a real aggro attack. Testing with my roommate Colin proved that Boros was one of the worst matchups for the BUG deck. I quickly went in search of answers. As you can see I found six answers in red. Cunning Sparkmage was a house vs 90% of Boros’ creatures, and if he managed to flood the board I could quickly swing past defenders with Hero of Oxid Ridge and his Battle Cried friends. I know what you are thinking: “Yeah yeah yeah, what about Caw-Blade?”. Well this deck grabs their arm and hits them in the face with it while saying “Quit hittin’ yourself!”. By my reports you will see how good it can really be. I mean it has Vengevines, how bad can the matchup be? So let’s get to the tournament report shall we?

Round – 1 – Kuldotha Red

Game 1 – I win the die roll and he keeps a slow hand of Mountain, Memnite, and Signal Pest. I turn 2 Sparkmage off of a Birds of Paradise. A few turns of me sniping his creatures I steal his Contested Warzone with an attack and he scoops them up for game 2.

Game 2 – We both mulligan to six and he keeps an insane turn 3 kill. I know it included a Kuldotha Rebirth, Contested Warzone, and double Signal Pest.

Game 3 – I keep a solid hand with double Obstinate Baloth, he keeps another perfect hand. Check this, he turn 1 Mox, Memnite, Signal Pest, Mountain, Kuldotha Rebirth on the Mox, then plays a second Mox into another Signal Pest. Turn 2 he drops a Contested Warzone and swings……

R 0-1
G 1-2

Round 2 – UB Infect

Game 1 – I hit turn 1 Birds of Paradise, turn 2 Renegade Doppelganger, turn 3 Vengevine to start the beats early. He plays a clutch Tumble Magnet to lock down my only Vengevine, but a second one followed by a Clone the following turn end it in my favor.

Game 2 – He hits me with every piece of removal in his deck and we are both stuck with no cards in hand. I top deck a Lead the Stampede that draws me 4 cards including a Frost Titan. He runs down my team with double Tumble Magnet buying him a couple of turns to look for an answer. I threaten Clone not naming anything until he lets it resolve. He tanks a second and decides to tap out to bounce my titan with an Into the Roil. With my primary target in my hand and 2 Renegade Doppelgangers in play I choose Vengevine and swing for lethal.

R 1-1
G 3-2

Round 3 – BR Vampires

Game 1 – I stabalize with a Basilisk Collar on a Cunning Sparkmage just in time for him to topdeck removal for it. So with my collar and his Kalastria Highborn our life totals are going back and forth. That deck just has so much removal it took me a Vengevine to keep up. I asked my opponent his life total to confirm he was at 18 because I was pretty sure I had lethal in hand. I played a Hero of Oxid Ridge, copied it with my doppelganger, and swung for 18 with a Vengevine, and Birds of Paradise in tow.

Game 2 – He is visibly mana flooded but that didn’t stop him from hitting triple Gatekeeper of Malakir. This time I saw triple Vengevine and once I ran out of creatures I cast Lead the Stampede to hit for 3, refil my hand, and swing worry free of removal for two straight turns.

R 2-1
G 5-2

Round 4 – UW Caw-Blade

Game 1 – I mulligan into a nice turn 2 Fauna Shaman Hand and a Vengevine just begging to be pitched for later. My opponent has the turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic fetching for Sword of Feast and Famine. I love it when I have Fauna Shaman in play when they swing. It’s nothing shy of awesome for my deck since they can’t swing with the Sword until turn 4. It even lets me go get a Vengevine if I don’t have one on the draw. Being on the draw my Shaman was active on my turn 3 and when I, in response to damage, activate the Shaman to pitch a Vengevine to get a Vengevine. I just get all giddy inside. Next turn at 4 mana I play Renegade Doppelganger and a Birds of Paradise, copy the Vengevines when they enter and swing for 12. I think he scooped there and said he would play game 2.

Game 2 – I mulligan into a 2 land hand with Scalding Tarn, Island, 2 Renegade Doppelgangers, Phyrexian Revoker and Fauna Shaman. I decide to keep because Doppelganger is an insane turn 2 play and I drew some hate against him. He cast a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic getting the same sword, and on my turn I cast the Phyrexian Revoker naming it. When he sees I don’t draw any land he drops Jace, the Mind Sculptor and starts fatesealing me. After he puts a couple cards on the bottom I draw a green source for the shaman to offset the fateseal and get some answers. I topdeck a Cunning Sparkmage and double copy off of Doppelganger shooting down his army of Squadron Hawks and clearing a way for an attack to Jace. My plan changed when I topdeck a Lotus Cobra and a lightbulb hits me in the face with a Clone in my hand. With Jace at 11 loyalty I have to get something moving. I cast Lotus Cobra and double copy once again making it 3 cobras in play. I play a land adding 3 mana to my pool and casting Clone on my revoker naming his Jace. Next turn I topdeck another land to fetch for a Vengevine off of my shaman and play it double copying again and attacking to kill his Jace. On the following turn I do the same thing to attack his life total and win the game.

R 3-1
G 7-2

Round 5 – Gb Elves (The infamous Adam Prosak)

Game 1 – I stick an early Sparkmage and start picking away at his mana producers. After a few activations of my Fauna Shaman to get Vengevines that quickly bash for more he can handle.

Game 2 – We trade Lead the Stampedes and we are pretty even on board. Things take a turn when he shocks me by fetching for a swamp end of turn off of a Verdant Catacombs and he Go for the Throats my Shaman to stop my answer machine. On his turn he Green Sun’s Zeniths for 3 pulling up an Elvish Archdruid to put all of his elves out of sparkmage range. I am hanging on by a thread, but I have to scoop when he lands an Ezuri, Renegade Leader and threatens double Overrun that same turn.

Game 3 – He plays an early Ezuri, Renegade Leader and I answer with a Phyrexian Revoker. After that I slowly put Vengevines in the graveyard via Fauna Shaman. After a few turns of swings with multiple Vengevines he packs them away. After the game he told me he had a Go for the Throat in hand the second the Revoker came into play.

R 4-1
G 9-3

Round 6 – Boros (the matchup I tested with the most)

Game 1 – I keep a hand with a Sparkmage that is essential to winning the matchup. Too bad for me he has the turn 1 Steppe Lynx and a Lightning Bolt to kill of the Sparkmage before it gets out of hand. I am forced to chump block to prevent any crazy amount of damage off of his landfall creatures. An incredible Lead the Stampede puts me back in the game finding me not only a couple of ways to bring back Vengevine but another Cunning Sparkmage. After knocking down his creatures Vengevines seal the deal.

Game 2 – He is on the play with a turn 1 Steppe Lynx, and I answer with a Birds of Paradise. He anticipates the Sparkmage next turn, plays a fetch and declines to crack it when he attacks. He then plays a second Lynx and passes over to me. I play a turn 2 Cunning Sparkmage and immediately ping one Lynx, forcing him to fetch to save it and bolting my Sparkmage. Next turn he plays a Squadron Hawk and misses the third land drop. A few turns go by and I have another Sparkmage to kill off some creatures before he finds that third land. Unfortunately he drops his own mage and kills mine. I notice if I use Fauna Shaman to get Hero of Oxid Ridge not only is it lethal but none of his hawks or Lynx can block. All it takes is for me to reveal what I get for him to extend the hand.

R 5-1
G 11-3

Round 7 – I draw with Sam Meyer playing RDW since it’s my worst match up game 1.

R 5-1-1
G 11-3

Top 8 – UW Caw-Blade

Game 1 – I don’t remember much about this game other than how it ended. My opponent tapped out to play Elspeth Tirel, making 3, 1/1 tokens and I play Hero of Oxid Ridge to swing for lethal.

Game 2 – This was a little more interesting as I am constantly nipping at his heels as he is ousting and hitting me with Sword of Feast and Famine. He finally seals the deal with a Sun Titan bringing back a Sword of Feast and Famine. I look to the top of my deck to help me out but without a Lead the Stampede to refuel we go to game 3.

Game 3 – An unanswered Fauna Shaman starts my Vengevine engine. After a forced Day of Judgment I play Renegade Doppelganger, and cast Clone bringing back Vengevine. Clone enters as a Vengevine and the Doppelganger turns into the vine. He doesn’t have enough blockers to keep up with the second wave of green weeds.

R 6-1-1
G 13-4

Top 4 – Bant Vengevine

Game 1 – We match each other with Birds of Paradise on our first turns. I cast a turn 2 Lead the Stampede off of my birds but I whiff. It was the first time the entire tournament that it didn’t draw me at least 2 cards. The following turn he plays a land and hitting the Lotus Cobra trigger casts a Vengevine and swings for 6. I cast another Lead the Stampede this time refilling my hand and drawing me 3 cards including a Cunning Sparkmage. I ended that turn by having to discard a Vengevine of my own. He sees if I cast the Sparkmage he is in serious trouble since he missed a couple of land drops. Without a red source he casts Jace, the Mind Sculptor and bounces my Birds of Paradise. This only helps me to play a Misty Rainforest and double triggering landfall and casting Trinket Mage (searching for Basilisk Collar) and the Birds of Paradise that was bounced to bring back Vengevine and attack Jace. By this time I have taken quite a few hits off of Vengevine and I am at 3 life. This is when I start to get nutty with my Basilisk Collar. I start by attaching it to my Vengevine to negate his, then I play Cunning Sparkmage and start going to town. It only takes a couple times of me sniping his creatures for him to scoop.

Game 2 – In this game Mortarpod did a number on me after he fetched for it off of a turn 2 Stoneforge Mystic. I again hit a turn 2 Lead the Stampede, this time netting me a Fauna Shaman and a Cunning Sparkmage. He then plays a land and cast Vengevine and swings with the mystic and vine for 5. I cast a Cunning Sparkmage and quickly shoot his birds. Not wanting to be destroyed by my Sparkmage again he casts Mortarpod and hits him by sacrificing the germ token. I play the Fauna Shaman, Renegade Doppelganger, and a Basilisk Collar before passing the turn. He swings for 5 again with the same team and I drop to 10. Then he sacrifices his mystic to kill my Doppelganger to stop me from going nutty next turn. I cast a Frost Titan and tap his Vengevine. He casts an Acidic Slime destroying my Basilisk Collar. I cast a Lotus Cobra, play a land, and activate my Raging Ravine to swing for 10 and tap his slime. He tries to buy some time and casts a Gideon Jura and forces my attack. End of turn I activate my Shaman to find a Trinket Mage. I cast it searching for my sideboarded collar and cast and equip to my titan before attacking and killing his planeswalker. He then pays 6 to play Jace and bounce my blue titan, and swing to put me down to 5. I activate my Fauna Shaman to find me a Vengevine and swing for the win off of my 2 Vengevines and Lotus Cobra and he doesn’t have enough life to continue.

R 7-1-1
G 15-4

Finals – Sam Meyer playing RDW

Before the finals start Sam and I are entertaining a split for top 2. Seeing the look on his face I saw it meant a lot more to him than me. But not wanting to have my report end in a boring split I decide to play it out.

Game 1 – I’m on the play with a turn 1 birds. He plays a turn 1 Goblin Guide, and I hit a Raging Ravine before I take the 2 life. I play the ravine, and he plays a Teetering Peaks, and a second guide hitting me for 6. I cast a Lotus Cobra and a fetchland to hit a Vengevine for defense. He simply end of turn Lightning Bolts the vine and swings for 4. He then plays a Spikeshot Elder. I cast another Vengevine to play defense. Sam casts his third guide and swings with everything but the elder. I block 2 of the guides and take 2 life off of the last one. He casts a Plated Geopede and passes the turn. I cast a Cunning Sparkmage and shoot his elder but its all over when he shows me the Staggershock in hand.

At this point I am a game down and that split is looking pretty good. I take the split only if we can finish out the match for the sake of this very article.

Game 2 – I am on the play and I play enough creatures to chump long enough for the turn 4 Obstinate Baloth. After some clever burn after first strike from a Plated Geopede he manages to kill the 4/4. I simply follow it up by casting a second. He knows something is up when I don’t block with it, and he is right when I Clone it to gain 4 more life. Staring down 2 4/4 creatures and me still at 20 life he scoops them up.

Game 3 – We both are going card for card and I play my second Obstinate Baloth. After he kills one I start activating my Raging Ravine to force him to chump block. It only takes one turn of that for him to realize his degenerative board presence of disappearing creatures and he packs them in. I have never had someone shake my hand with a bigger smile on his face.

R – 8-1-1
G – 17-5

In closing I would like to thank all of the players that came out to Pop Culture Paradise and made it a great tournament. Also big props to Marco for owning my Magic home at Pop Culture and putting up a sweet tent to keep the outside players nice and cool. Simon Plumaj for not only being the rules advisor for the event but doing deck checks, answering ridiculous questions, and helping me remember top 4. Also Brian Jacobson for giving up his time to volunteer for the event and helping Simon do deck checks, and field questions (even though he was already qualified and didn’t need to be there).

Look out for “Part 2” where I venture to the Tucson qualifier to see if my deck was just a bag of luck.