Rogue week

As I prepare for my next PTQ this coming weekend, I’ve been checking in with deck lists from all my usual sources. I’m generally looking for two things:
1) The metagame as sort-of represented in the top eight
2) Interesting innovations
Innovations can be anything from subtle changes to a known archetype (say, adding Future Sight into Faeries) to substantially novel decks. This week, we see a mix of all that, although in fairness, many of the outliers are not so much “novel” as they are re-imaginings of decks from older formats that you might not have expected to see in a top eight. Nonetheless, I like seeing quirky ideas make their way into top eights, as deck building and card choice really are two fundamental parts of the fun of Magic.
Click through to the extended entry for cool ideas and commentary.

Milford has Gifts
Blog name aside, I’ve already shown how much I appreciate Gifts Ungiven. I’ve already taken a couple subpar Gifts decks to bat at events this season, and I’m planning on taking a significantly improved model to the PTQ this weekend.
Jeff Pyka took down first place in Milford, Mass with this Gifts deck. Specifically, it’s a Gifts-Loam deck. Check it out:

10 Creatures:
Kitchen Finks
Ravenous Baloth
Sakura-Tribe Elder
22 Spells:
Engineered Explosives
Gifts Ungiven
Life from the Loam
Raven’s Crime
Worm Harvest
28 Land:
Academy Ruins
Barren Moor
Breeding Pool
Ghost Quarter
Overgrown Tomb
Polluted Delta
Stomping Ground
Tranquil Thicket
Treetop Village
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Windswept Heath
15 Sideboard:
Ancient Grudge
Arashi, the Sky Asunder
Ravenous Baloth
Raven’s Crime

This is Gifts dropped into a reasonably normal Loam-Rock deck (Gifts-Loam-Rock!). We have the normal combination of Sakura-Tribe Elders and life gain critters, as well as some Darkblasts and other removal. Notably, this deck can cut back the numbers on Raven’s Crime and Loam due to the presence of Gifts, since you can reasonably expect to Gifts the Loam engine into life. It also adds in triple Smallpox (aka Death Cloud Jr.), with the Loam engine and the significant mass of lands (28!) serving to break symmetry.
Jeff has double Arashi in the sideboard. I’ve gone back and forth on Arashi as a sideboard or even maindeck card, but at the moment, I think it’s not actually critical for beating the Faeries matchup and I’m inclined to leave it out.
At the same PTQ, Eric Rose and Andrew Harwell made fifth and sixth place with NLU-style decks featuring Kitchen Finks, Tarmogoyf, and full (or nearly so) sets of Cryptic Commands.
Form of Boston
It seems like Storm decks are the place to look for fascinating one-of sideboard cards. Yoni Skolnik took seventh place in Boston with a Storm deck (with the Tendrils kill) featuring yet another cool sideboard card:

42 Spells:
Desperate Ritual
Lotus Bloom
Mind’s Desire
Pact of Negation
Peer Through Depths
Rite of Flame
Seething Song
Tendrils of Agony
18 Land:
Bloodstained Mire
Cascade Bluffs
Dreadship Reef
Flooded Strand
Gemstone Mine
Polluted Delta
Shivan Reef
Steam Vents
Wooded Foothills
15 Sideboard:
Ad Nauseam
Ancestral Vision
Form of the Dragon
Pact of Negation
Shattering Spree
Volcanic Fallout

This is a pretty normal Storm list. Over in the sideboard, we add in one more possible kill – some decks use Brain Freeze as the backup kill, but Yoni went for Grapeshot. Much more interesting is that other possible win condition, in Form of the Dragon. Imagine the opponent’s surprise when they’ve boarded out their non-disruptive cards and gone a little lighter on creatures, only to find that you’ve converted yourself into a 5/5 flyer who’s hammering them for 5 a turn. Ouch.
Is it better than Akroma? Hard to say. But it’s just as awesome.
I’ll look suspiciously at any Storm deck I run into this weekend, at least.
Kansas decks
There were a couple notable features of the Kansas City top eight, starting with this deck from Joseph Cowsert:

10 Creatures:
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
Platinum Angel
Ravenous Baloth
Sundering Titan
Wall of Roots
28 Spells:
Engineered Explosives
Garruk Wildspeaker
Plow Under
Primal Command
Sylvan Scrying
Tooth and Nail
23 Land:
Academy Ruins
Breeding Pool
Contested Cliffs
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills
15 Sideboard:
Ancient Grudge
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Bottled Cloister
Chalice of the Void
Relic of Progenitus

That is, indeed, TwelvePost with Tooth and Nail.
Let’s break this down, as it’s a really fun update of a deck that was brilliant in Standard but basically third-tier in Extended…at least last year. Cowsert’s take on the build starts with a fundamental baseline anti-aggro package, with Wall of Roots, a couple Baloths, and a mix of Firespouts and Explosives. To these, it adds Sylvan Scrying to build the Cloudpost base and Plow Under and Primal Command to keep opponents off any action.
From there, things get even wackier, as the deck adds triple Garruk Wildspeaker. Note the clear Garruk + Cloudpost synergy. This all leads into all manner of brokenness, with Garruk-fueled Posts powering out Mindslaver, lethal Banefire, or even the relatively prosaic “Tooth and Nail for infinite Pestermites” (with a backup option of Angel + Titan). Crazy. Cowsert clearly decided it was best to bring a sledgehammer to the knife fight and just wreak havoc.
Moving down the same top eight, the next finisher after Cosert used the NyxaGoyf deck that we saw showing up in the next most recent batch of top eights, with no fundamental changes from that version. Incidentally, “Gerald Sixkiller” is an excellent name to be able to put on the standings, pairings, and match slips.
In sixth place, Brooks Clark continues the Storm sideboard fandango with a single copy of Telemin Performance, presumably for the mirror.
Finally, eighth place went to Jason Golliher with a Slide deck featuring a single maindeck copy of Realm Razer. How’s that for an icer?
Finally, let’s end with a deck from this PTQ in Korea. Joon-he Kang took seventh place with a Krark-Clan Irownworks combo deck:

44 Spells:
Myr Incubator
Chrome Mox
Pyrite Spellbomb
Pentad Prism
Talisman of Dominance
Goblin Charbelcher
Krark-Clan Ironworks
Thirst for Knowledge
Talisman of Progress
16 Land:
Vault of Whispers
Ancient Den
Seat of the Synod
Great Furnace
15 Sideboard:
Pact of Negation
Path to Exile
Relic of Progenitus

This deck has a number of potential victory conditions. You can generate a giant pile of Myr with the Incubator; at the same time, you can remove most of your lands from the deck and kill with Charbelcher. Or if you feel like it, you can generate a giant pile of mana with the Ironworks and Banefire them out. I’d be concerned to some extent about taking splash damage from people who have prepared for Affinity, but the Ironworks deck really isn’t going to be on anyone’s radar, making it one of those combo decks where you might steal some free wins because even the control players don’t properly know how and when to block you.