Superstars Standard $1K — 11th place

Today I went to the Superstars November Standard Championship, vying along with 42 or so other players for the $1K prize pool. I brought my white-black disruptive control deck that I’ve named “Ahura”, for which you can find a deck list here. I had a good time and did reasonably well, ending up at 4-2 but missing the top eight on tie breaks and coming in at 11th.
Overall, I think the Ahura build is quite solid, and it fairly cleanly beat the matchups I’d given some thought to ahead of time — Faeries and Lark, while suffering against Merfolk and Tokens.
The take-home message today is that an active Battlegrace Angel is ridiculous.
The full tournament report is in the extended entry.

Round 1, versus Matt playing R/W Lark
Matt took second place in California States last weekend, so you can find his deck list here. I didn’t hang around States long enough to see Matt’s deck in action, so I didn’t know his build ahead of time.
Game one opens with Matt playing a Flamekin Harbinger to tutor up a Lark, and I have a good idea immediately what’s goin on. I take a Harbinger hit and then play a Sculler, seeing double Finks and (naturally) a Lark in his hand. I take a Finks, betting I can get some more disruption before the Lark hits. He plays the other Finks, I take a hit, then play my own. I think, from my combined poor memory and brief notes, that he plays out the Lark and I Wrath the board, bringing back the Harbinger for Matt. He tutors up another Lark and plays it. I play a Battlegrace. Matt plays another Lark, and I swing in — he takes it, then swings back with double Lark. I come in again with the Grace, then Unmake a Lark. A Redcap comes in and smacks me, and the Lark swings agian. I come back with the Angel, taking Matt to 8, and putting me back up to 17. I play a Finks, take another Lark and Cap hit, then swing again with the Angel. Another Angel hit takes Matt to 5, and not drawing anything off the top, he concedes.
Notably, I gained 20 life off of the Battlegace that game, and ended the game at 16.
-4 Kitchen Finks
+4 Faerie Macabre
Matt mulligans to six cards, and once again opens on Harbinger for Lark. I take a Harbinger hit, and then Thoughtseize the Lark out of his hand. Matt plays a Redcap, pings me with it, then hits with Harbinger. I play Elspeth, making a soldier, then the following turn strike with a 4/4 flying soldier. I didn’t record this properly, but some combination of Redcap return after (I think) I trade a Mutavault for it, followed by a Harbinger hit and a new Redcap equals dead Elspeth. I Wrath, then remove the Redcap from the graveyard with a Macabre in response to its persist trigger. After this, I play a Battlegrace and swing, swing, swing. I end the game on 20.
After the match, Matt mentioned that he was hoping to topdeck and Ajani — and with three in the deck, that certainly wasn’t unreasonable. That would have been a problem for me, as Ajani can keep an Angel locked down.
Round 2, versus JP playing Faeries
I mulligan to six on the play, and JP obligingly goes to six as well.
I get an early hit in with a Mutavault, then play a Kitchen Finks. JP Thoughtseizes me and sees a hand full of threats, taking Angel. I play a Sculler, taking a Cryptic Command, and JP comes back with a Bitterblossom. I play Liliana and start grinding his hand down as I swing in with Finks. Eventually, my Finks dies, but in the meantime, I tutor up an Elspeth and start throwing soldiers at JP’s face as his Blossom eats his life total. He never recovers, and that’s that.
-4 Kitchen Finks
+4 Wispmare
In game two, JP gets the second turn Bitterblossom, which is okay. I misplay here, laying a Mutavault rather than a color producer, thinking it won’t matter — and then I get Cliqued going into my fourth turn, with an Unmake in hand. Ugh. From there, Faeries quickly beat me to death.
I open game three with a Crime, which I retrace on turn two. I then Sculler, seeing double Clique in his hand and taking one of them. I follow up wih Finks, then Elspeth, then an Angel. I’m Cliqued on my next upkeep, and then go ahead and swing with the Angel. The counterswing Prowls out a Notorious Throng, and the timewalk turn sees me take more harm and end up at 15. I play a Sculler, grabbing a Cryptic from JP’s hand. At this point, I’d cranked Elspeth up considerably, and was able to use her ultimate ability. I then did something extremely dirty and Wrathed the board, keeping all my guys. JP makes a Clique, taps out my guys with a Cryptic, and swings, Prowling out another Throng.
NB: This doesn’t work. After the fact, Toby comes by and gives JP a warning. I, on the other hand, will learn my lesson by dint of JP getting an extra turn and four free Faeries. Ugh, again. Nonetheless, I keep swinging with the Battlegrace for the win.
Sadly, I’d actually looked at the Clique and checked to make sure it wasn’t a Rogue (it’s a Faerie Wizard), so it couldn’t Prowl anything out. Then I didn’t catch that exact error when it happened soon after. Tsk.
Although I didn’t track the specific instances in my notes, it’s worth mentioning that I retraced Crime three times in one of these games. In general, retracing a Crime came up in several of my longer games on the day.
Round 3, versus Kyle playing Merfolk
We sit down and Toby steals our decks. Deck check!
Eight or so minutes later, we get our sorted decks back, and shuffle a lot, then get going. I end up mulliganing to six on the draw.
Kyle comes out swinging with a Banneret into a Reejery, and I suddenly realize I didn’t even think of testing against Merfolk. Hm. I Unmake a Reejery and play out a Finks, but I’m basically not in this one, and quickly fold.
In game two, I play an early Finks and get some solid beats in before Kyle starts to recover by playing out some guys. I play a Battlegrace, lose it to a Sower (and give him some nice lifelinked harm coming my way for a turn), and then Wrath the board. Kyle plays a Lark to which I can’t respond, then beats me down with Lark and Vault.
Quick and ugly.
Round 4, versus Ryan playing BRG tokens
I know in advance of this game that Ryan is playing a tokens build with Nantuko Husks et al, so I suppose I’ll have some good ideas for keepable hands…except I have a complete garbage opening hand (five good cards, a Mutavault, and a Heath), and then an even more terrible six-card hand (Angel, Angel, Liliana, Wrath, Finks). I go to five, and lead with Thoughtseize for Kitchen Finks, seeing a Sprouting Thrinax, a Nantuko Husk, a Safehold Elite and some lands. I take some Elite hits, then play out my own Finks, only to have Ryan play some of his own. I Wrath to clear the board, then more guys come in from Ryan’s side and there’s nothing I can do.
-4 Raven’s Crime
-1 Graveborn Muse
-4 Kitchen Finks
+3 Infest
+2 Oblivion Ring
+4 Faerie Macabre
I mulligan to six here. The early game is me swinging in with Mutavault beats, but then Ryan recovers, playing out Husk and persist buddies. Man. Infest can’t clear the Husk here, due to those buddies to sacrifice. A Redcap that came out briefly earlier comes back from a Profane Command. I Oblivion Ring it…and Sarkhan Vol comes out next turn, pumping a Treetop Village that will, in fact, go all the way and kill me, perhaps because of my decision to try and take down Vol with Mutavaults rather than hang out and block the Village.
Round 5, versus Mark playing Faeries
On the play, I open with Caves into Thoughtseize, and Mark places his Bitterblossom in the graveyard and then shows me the rest of his hand. Mark plays another Blossom soon after, then Remove Souls my attempted Sculler. His lands are bleeding him badly here, as he has an Underground River and two Sunken Ruins, so doing anything means taking harm. With no Cryptic mana up, I play Elspeth, and Soldier tokens start trading with Faerie Rogues. I Thoughtseize Mark again (I forgot to note what I took), and then play an Angel. I start smashing Angel into Faerie Rogues, boosting it once with Elspeth (hurrah for gaining 8 life). Mark’s later Thoughtseize takes Liliana, I think, but the Angel keeps smashing in, and Mark draws no outs. I end this game on 24 life.
-4 Kitchen Finks
+4 Wispmare
Mark mulligans to five in this game, eschewing hands that don’t have proper mana each time. I lead with a Sculler to take a Vendilion Clique from Mark’s hand, then start hitting with Sculler. He plays a Scion of Oona, which I promptly Unmake. My second Sculler is countered via Cryptic. A turn later, I look at the few cards in Mark’s hand and estimate that he almost certainly doesn’t have another Cryptic, so I play Elspeth. I send in a flying Sculler. Mark plays a Bitterblossom. Back on my turn, I play Liliana, then evoke Wispmare to kill the Blossom, then send in the flying Sculler again. Mark draws, sees nothing, and concedes.
Round 6, versus Peter playing B/G Elves
I’m noting the colors here because there was at least one mono-green elves build there today. At this point, if I win, I might make it into the top eight, depending on how some other games go.
On the play, I Thoughtseize away a Wren’s Run Vanquisher. Peter comes back with a Thoughtseize of his own, seeing a hand with double Angel and a Sculler. I follow up by Scullering away a Chameleon Colossus…then drawing another Sculler and stealing the other Colossus. I play a Kitchen Finks, then play an Angel and swing with a now-4/3, lifelink Finks. Peter declines to trade a Treetop Village for it. Peter Profanes away my Sculler and brings back his Vanquisher. I play Elspeth, and start making soldiers to chump block the Colossus that Peter plays out. He also runs out a Bitterblossom, and I run my Angel into his token, going to 31 life. The following turn, as the Bitterblossom eats Peter’s life total down to 6 (he’d taken Sculler damage, pain from lands, and Fink harm earlier on in the game), I play a second Angel and swing with the first, cranking my life to 43 as a token chumps. With no apparent outs, Peter concedes and we move on to game two.
-4 Raven’s Crim
-1 Graveborn Muse
+2 Oblivion Ring
+3 Wispmare
This wasn’t a matchup to which I’d given much thought, so I initially sided in my Infests, then, realizing that they’d kill maybe eight creatures in Peter’s deck, sided them back out again. I also figured he’d probably take the Bitterblossoms out, but that it wouldn’t hurt to have the Wispmares in and it would be best to be able to clear out a Blossom if I needed to.
In game two, I open up with a Thoughtseize, seeing Profane Command, Civic Wayfinder, Cloudthresher, and some lands. I take the Wayfinder, to try and slow down his progress. I follow it up with a Sculler, grabbing something, but mainly prompting Peter to Profane the Sculler. After that, I play Finks, then follow it up with an Angel, making the first Finks swing a 4/3, lifelinked affair. Peter Profanes the Angel, killing it and bringing back the Civic Wayfinder. I note that he’ll be on Thresher mana next turn and play Thoughtseize, taking one of two Threshers in his hand. Hm. I trade Finks for Wayfinder, and at the end of my turn, Peter flashes out the Thresher. I Unmake it. My notes are missing something here, but I play out a dude, and Peter flashes out another Thresher (Thresher count at three now). I chump, then Wrath on my turn, following that up with a Battlegrace. The Angel gets one swing in, then on the following turn, Peter flashes out a Thresher (!) and I Unmake it, then hit him with the Battlegrace. Seeing nothing good on his next draw, Peter concedes.
That took me to 12 points and waiting to hear how things turned out. As it happened, I ended up in 11th place.