Report GP Ingolstadt 9 - Smallpox

If you’re driving for hours just to play some rounds of Magic the Gathering you have to be kind of crazy. And you think a lot about what deck to play. In my case, the decision wasn’t that hard or even close, I played some sort of my own brew as I did in 2011 – a strict monoblue counterdeck with 23 counters back then and a strict land-destruction deck this time. Since it’s not that common, here’s the list I came up with:

Decklist : Smallpox

4x Smallpox (U)

4x Sinkhole

4x Rancid Earth

4x Choking Sands

3x Icequake

3x Sign in Blood

4x Gurmag Angler

2x Chittering Rats

2x Crypt Rats

4x Dark Ritual

3x Lotus Petal

1x Wasteland (U)

22x Swamp


4x Snuff Out

4x Duress

2x Spinning Darkness

2x Crypt Rats

1x Nausea

1x Evincar’s Justice

1x Vampiric Link

Round 1: Affinity Atog

G1: As usual I let my opponent go first. That’s basically always the default option, as long as you don’t know what you’re up against. And it changes only against super fast aggro decks like Infect, Goblins or MGA. My opponent had to take two mulligans and started with a Seat of the Synod. I immediately used fast mana to take out his first land and continued to do so the turns after. He only played two Disciple of the Vault until an early Gurmag Angler finished the game.

G2: My opponent seemed to be kind of shocked from game one, but couldn’t make any changes to his deck. One of my advantages is that many decks have exactly zero sideboard options against me. Once again I could keep him off getting enough mana and started to threaten his life total, he managed to get a Frogmite on the board but had to chumpblock the turn after and died without showing me anything else.

After a great quick 2-0 start in games I took a look at my opponents decklist. It was a kind of unusual Affinity Aggro list running Atogs, Ensoul Artifact and a random Isochron Scepter (with only some Galvanic Blasts and a single Counterspell to imprint).

Round 2: UG Madness

G1: My opponent starts off with Thornwood Falls, which gets answered by a Dark Ritual into Choking Sands. His next landdrop is a Terramorphic Expanse and since he can kind of guess what he is up against he correctly cracks it at the end of my turn. I don’t like to play against fetchlands. I really really don’t. Turn 3 he manages to cast a Wild Mongrel and discards a Basking Rootwalla. Over the course of the next few turns he draws a bunch of lands, pumps his Rootwalla again and again and keeps getting in for 5 points of damage per turn. I cast a Smallpox and he starts to think for quite some time until letting the spell resolve (he sacrifices his Rootwalla but still has enough cards in hand to finish me off with his Mongrel if I remember correctly). I go for a Gurmag Angler but have to tap out in order to cast it and remove my whole graveyard. That’s when Daze hits.

G2: He starts by playing Gitaxian Probe for two life, I reveal Crypt Rats in my opening hand but he still chooses the aggressive route, which was definitely correct. He goes Island, Careful Study then discards two Basking Rootwallas onto the battlefield. That’s a start that doesn’t let me play around Daze by any chance so I still stick to my quick land destruction plan. I can handle his lands but not his creatures and there are no Anglers in sight so he quickly takes game two as well.

My deck is very weak against fetchlands, Daze and Quirion Ranger. My opponent played very well and I don’t think I could have done much different. 1:1 in matches – no need to get upset since I can still make top 8.

Round 3: ThopterSword

G1: I know what I’m up against and that the matchup isn’t all that great for me (though definitely not the worst). The land destruction plan works out kind of nicely but my threats get answered by my opponent’s edicts instantly. After many turns he manages to get to a third land to transmute into Thopter Foundry. I don’t play any maindeck discard except for Smallpox, but still think that my opponent shouldn’t have let the Foundry sit in his hand for another two or three turns – which he did. I’m out of cards in hand and left with basically no options, the game still takes forever until he finds his sword and goes off. There’s nothing I can do once the Thopter player manages to stick his two combo pieces.

G2: I start by playing Duress but only see three transmute-spells and no combo pieces. I can’t find a second one, still manage to draw both Muddle the Mixture out of my opponents hand by threatening to destroy his lands but can’t stick one of my own threats. Once again he finds both combo pieces and wins.

The ThopterSword deck made top 8, although the pilot hasn’t played any matches in over half a year and just borrowed the deck right before the tournament started. I’m sure there would have been some options during these two games for me but I didn’t notice them. There might be an argument for playing some One Eyed Scarecrows in the Sideboard, which can stop the combo at least until the opponent finds another edict effect. I’m 1:2 in matches and anything but happy.

Round 4: Impact Goblins

G1: I play Swamp, Lotus Petal and Sign in Blood in my first turn and my opponent looks perplex. He starts by playing a Mogg Fanatic into Impact Tremors since I don’t have any land destruction in hand and can only resolve a second copy of Sign in Blood during my own second turn. I feel horrible because the matchup is one of the worst and the reason for the last minute change where I swapped one copy of Chittering Rats and a Sign in Blood for two Crypt Rats in the maindeck. It gets better. I draw not only a Ritual and an Angler, but also a Smallpox, can finally start to diminish his lands and stick a 5/5 body to the board that he can’t answer. Angler saves my day and takes game one.

G2: I have to take my first mulligan to six and keep a hand with three lands and Crypt Rats. My opponent comes out fast by playing Mogg Fanatic into Krenko’s Command and Dragon Fodder. I can keep him off his third landdrop and know that I can crack Crypt Rats at any time. I decide to do so turn 4 and sweep the whole board. Once again an Angler comes down early and pressures my opponents life total. He chumps for some turns until I play my second copy of Crypt Rats and attack with Angler. He refuses to block, goes down to three and the rats finish him off.

I thought the matchup is one of the worst for me and felt pretty lucky. Maybe it’s not that bad overall, especially with Crypt Rats in the maindeck. My opponent played no Goblin Sledder, which can’t be correct in my opinion. 2:2 in matches.

Round 5: Jace’s Top (Erasure-Mill-Combo)

G1: My opponent manages to get a Sensei’s Divining Top on the board early, but can’t find another one for several turns. He has no great answers against Chittering Rats or Gurmag Angler and I am able to attack for lethal damage soon.

G2: I board out two Icequakes and the Crypt Rats for four Duress, manage to hit him down to four life with him having no answers to my board, but he finds his second Top last minute and combos off.

G3: I keep a potentially risky hand with no land destruction for turn one, which allows him to go Etherium Sculptor into two Tops turn 2. I don’t have Smallpox either but manage to destroy his second land with Sinkhole. He only needs another land and an Erasure to go off but misses his landdrop. I destroy his remaining Desert and play two copies of Chittering Rats the turns after. With no lands in play an Angler quickly finishes the game.

3:2 in matches, at least the end result is positive. We discussed the Duresses from the board after the third game and are both not sure if it was the correct decision. Of course it can be crucial to hit a combo piece with Duress but the Erasure list is able to see many cards and finds its necessary pieces fairly quickly. On the other hand the combo pieces are cheap, so land destruction might as well be way too slow.

Once again I’m happy I played one of my own decks. It was probably the most expensive list in the whole tournament, which more or less negates one of the great advantages of the format. Nevertheless it is kind of viable and I’m pleased to see that LD is finally playable in the current metagame. As far as the meta in Ingolstadt turned out the Crypt Rats decision was definitely correct. Still, the tournament doesn’t represent the actual tier 1 meta played at tournaments in France. There were zero Familiar decks, one of the strongest or maybe the best deck in the current meta. And this matchup is basically an auto-win for land destruction. The Smallpox list is great against anything that needs or wants to cast spells with cmc 4 or higher. One the other hand there are obvious weaknesses like mentioned earlier: Daze, fetchlands, Quirion Ranger (to be more realistic: Elves in general).

I finished 10th with my 3:2 record and am of course a little disappointed to have missed the top 8 this time. I won’t stop here. I’m going to come up with a new list. For sure.