Qualifying with Wolf Run Bant

by Niv Shmueli on April 24, 2013

Hello everyone,
So for my article I thought about writing an article about how to choose a deck for a tournament, basically after going 0-2 drop in my local modern ptq where I played Grixis Delver, I did some thinking and knew that my deck choice was wrong.
But since then I played in 2 WMCQs and a magic online ptq, all with the same deck and I did well in all of them including winning the last WMCQ.
So I’m not going to go over every match and specify the details on every game because; 1. I really don’t remember 100% of the games and don’t want to give you false information and 2. Let’s be honest you don’t care about the tournament, you want details on the deck and the deck list that I got to during my testing, so let’s do that.

So the deck I chose to play was Wolf-Run Bant.
When I started testing for the WMCQs\PTQs I checked out a lot of decks, starting from UWR and Junk as the main 2 decks. Basically UWR is my style of play (Boros Reckoner\ Aurelia, the Warleader although I liked the Boros Reckoner much more) and I played Junk for a while as it is a very good deck, close to the best in the format.
After playing with those 2 decks I really didn’t like them, UWR was being way too “fair” when people are playing turn 4-5 Angel of Serenity or turn 2 they have 3-4 creatures in play (thanks to Burning-Tree Emissary) I felt like playing a turn 3 Boros Reckoner and grinding them out as I like usually won’t do it in this format. I didn’t like Junk because it’s not my cup of tea and also people are going to pack a lot of hate against it, although the deck is good against hate I didn’t feel like it’s good against the really aggressive decks (Naya Blitz, Rg “saito” aggro) and I knew those would be a huge part of the metagame in my local area.
After dispatching those 2 decks I tried Esper, I’m a huge fan of Obzedat, Ghost Council and Esper seemed like it was good especially after Ben Stark Top 4’d the Pro Tour with it.
After just losing a bunch with Esper I quickly threw it away as I didn’t feel like it was worth trying to figure it out with such little time for so many big standard tournaments.
So I was basically hating all the decks in the current format until I tried Melissa De-Tora’s Wolf Run Bant list.
After playing some 8 mans\daily’s with it on MODO I knew this was the deck to play, I think that people don’t give this deck the credit it deserves.
I kept crushing Junk and was doing fairly positive against the aggressive decks and was doing much better than I thought I would against Esper.
The match ups I was worried about were UWR Aurelia control as it’s very similar to Esper control only instead of bad 6 mana wraths they had tons of counterspells + more Snapcaster Mages.
Then later on The Aristocrats v2 came up and I was ok against it but not great.
This is the list I started with which I made top 8 of my first WMCQ.

I combined this list from Kyle Boggemes and De Tora’s list and I really liked it.
In the Top 8 I lost to Jund mainly on my bad plays game 1 and mulliganing out game 2 but defiantly deserved it since he played much better than I did game 1 (it was a long grindy game).
So I went back to the drawing board (aka deck editor on Magic Online) and started to update my list as I went on and discovered which parts I liked more and which parts I liked less.
First thing I noticed was that Augur of Bolas is pretty bad, but I didn’t want to cut them all since they are still important against aggro so I went down to 2 Augur of Bolas and from there also to 2 Restoration Angels.
I added the 2nd Angel of Serenity to the maindeck so that gave me more room in the sideboard, I also went down to 2 Dissipates in the maindeck as they were good against Junk\control but terrible against anything else basically, and the Junk matchup is so good so I was fine with hurting it just a little bit, and I was adding a 2nd Angel of Serenity to the maindeck so that helps in that match up a lot (and in the control match up).
So after some changes this is the deck I played and Top 4′d a Magic Online PTQ.

So I took Sigarda, Host of Herons as an idea from Mellisa’s update on her article but I really did not like it throughout the tournament, the control decks will keep some wrath effects against you and a 5 mana 5\5 is not going to stop them from doing their stuff or easily countering it… I knew I wanted something that once I played it I was going to win in a high % against control\other midrange decks.
So I went x-1 in the ptq losing in the Top 4 to UWR Aurelia control straight up, like I said before that match up is a nightmare.
I also lost in the swiss to naya midrange from my poor playing, should have won that one probably.
So after playing with the deck in this long PTQ I learned more about the deck and the first thing I noticed was that 2 Angel of Serenity was too many “big cards” as Sphinx’s Revelation is better but 1 Angel of Serenity is something I wanted.
Also Sigarda, Host of Herons had to go for something better, something that wins you straight up the game against midrange/control…I knew I wanted to Assemble the Legion.
After playingAssemble the Legion in the UWR’s sideboards I really liked it, if I ever got to untap with it in a clogged up board or an empty one I usually won since I could back it up with some counterspells\removals and control\midrange decks usually only have like 1-3 outs to it, and when you have Jace, Memory Adepts\random creatures (especially Loxodon Smiter) that they already might of used those Detention Spheres\Oblivion Rings on then you can make sure that Assemble the Legion will stick, oh and making a bunch of tokens+Kessig Wolf Run is sweet.
After trying it out I thought I might need an extra red source, but to be honest you’re not looking to play it out there on turn 4\5, actually much later so I was fine on 6 sources for the card (2 red sources+4 Farseeks) , the card also turned out to be great, I was actually winning more of the UWR Aurelia match ups and Esper became much much better (it was already fine in the first place).

So this is the final list that I took down my wmcq with

In my first list I had 2 Assemble the Legion 1 Detention Sphere in the sideboard but after looking around in the room I saw almost no control decks (although apparently there were some Fog Bant lists after all) so I took out 1 Assemble the Legion for the 2nd Detention Sphere in the board and 3rd in total.

So my swiss round went like this-
Ur delver 2-0
Bant 2-0 (I’m not sure which version of bant since he got game loss for deck registration and game 2 he didn’t really play much)
The Aristocrats v2 0-2, was up against a 12 year old that really impressed me with his playing except some little mistakes that everyone can do under pressure (not removing Obzedat,Ghost Council) I did punt game 1 here from not being 100% familiar with the match up.
Naya blitz 2-0
Bw Zombies 1-2 also didn’t play my best here as wasn’t sure how this match up goes.
Dark Naya 2-0
So after going 4-2 I got in 8th place on ties (luckyyy) and got another Top 8…I was on the draw throughout the entire t8 as the higher ranking chooses but that certainly did not remove the fire in my eyes that I knew this one was mine.
R1 of the Top 8 I played against the bw zombies list that beat me in the swiss only this time I knew his deck better, in game 1 he didn’t draw his Geralf’s Messengers so my Supreme Verdict‘s were good and eventually I “Thragtusk[/Card]ed” him away and played Sphinx’s Revelations for a bunch.
In game 2 I kept a somewhat slow hand only with comes into play lands and Farseek and got punished with a turn 4 kill when I did not miracle a Terminus
In game 3 Rest in Peace showed how powerful it is in this match up as it negated his Geralf’s Messenger, Blood Artist, Skirsdag High Priest and Gravecrawler so suddenly his somewhat “unfair” cards turned into really bad ones, I did get really flooded and was getting low a few times but then Rhox Faithmender+ Kessig Wolf Run got me to above 80 life…
In the Top 4 I played against The Aristocrats that beat me earlier, this time like in the zombies match up I knew more about the match up so I was much more prepared.
I took game 1 in the old Supreme Verdict—> Thragtusk—> Sphinx’s Revelation—> Kessig Wolf Run way , in game 2 I was a bit mana screwed and he got a very aggressive draw with Falkenrath Aristocrat and tokens.
In game 3 though I had control, again Rest in Peace showing its power as it gave me a bunch of time to draw my big spells, making his Lingering Souls a sorcery Midnight Haunting, Doomed Traveler a Wandering One and Blood Artist absolutely nothing, eventually I drew into Rhox Faithmender then a Thragtusk and got the game.

So needed 1 more win and I was off to Amsterdam representing my country for the 2nd consecutive time.
In the finals I played against one of the better players in Israel but he barely plays magic anymore (and randomly gets to the finals) but more importanty he beat me way back in the 2008 nationals finals in a deciding g5 (back then it was the best of 5 in the Top 8)…it was time for payback.
He was playing Mono Red\Boar aggro and was on the play which is huge in this match up.
Luckily for me though he had a slow hand game 1 with no 1 drop and I had the Farseek into a Supreme Verdict after he played his 2nd Boros Reckoner + Stromkirk Noble and later on Thragtusk and he scooped once I played Sphinx’s Revelation.
In game 2 he mulligand to 5 and didn’t have too much pressure going on, I had an Azorius Charm to punish his mulligans even more and played 2x Loxodon Smiter so he couldn’t get through and Restoration Angel basically sealed the deal and there I was winning the WMCQ and going to represent my country once again .

So a little bit more about the deck-
I really think that this deck is one of the better decks, defiantly not getting the credit it deserves.
I would recommend this over the Prime Speaker Bant, as 1. Kessig Wolf Run makes any creature a huge threat whereas Gavony Township requires you to have multiple threats on the board and is much much slower, and 2. It requires you to play more creatures which sometimes aren’t that great (Loxodon Smiter is actually bad against junk for example).
This deck crushes Junk pretty easily, only time I’ve lost to junk were with a Createrhoof Behemoth\ Obzedat, Ghost Council involved or me stumbling.
Obzedat, Ghost Council is annoying for the deck, but usually they don’t have many removals (Junk mainly) so you can just play a Thragtusk and they won’t attack, also they won’t attack with it fearing Azorius Charm + a counterspell giving you time to draw a Sphinx’s Revelation and just ignore it.
Graveyard hate- I tried everything and every card has its ups and downs:
Ground Seal- well, draws you a card, that’s the best, and it works well with Think Twice (since you can still play it from your graveyard) but now Junk has Abrupt Decay against you (fearing also Loxodon Smiter I guess) or Acidic Slime so the hate isn’t really that relevant eventually making it usually a 2 mana draw a card and give you some time…but you’re not aggressive so you’re not looking for time, you need something “hardcore”.
Purify the Grave\ Memory’s Journey- well the big upside of these is that they work well with Augur of Bolas, but I usually cut Augur of Bolas vs. Junk anyway since it does nothing at all. They also have the “surprise factor” being instant speed but unless you draw more then 1, Junk can still play more stuff and Unburial Rites will eventually get there.
Rest in Peace- in my opinion the best out of the bunch, but you need to play it well against Junk, just running it out there on turn 2 is bad, let them do their thing Mulching and Grisly Salvageing then when the time is right (usually when they have a Lingering Souls\ Unburial Rites in their yard) play it and get value from it (very similar in this case to drawing a card from Ground Seal), the big upside from Rest in Peace is that it helps you so much against The Aristocrat v2 and other random Lingering Souls decks (there is a BWR Unburial Rites\ Lingering Souls deck).

Some sideboard tips although it changes from list to list (for example junk with Lotleth Troll or not)

-3 Augur of Bolas
-2 Supreme Verdict
-3 Loxodon Smiter
-2Azorius Charm

+3 Negate
+2Rest in Peace
+2 Terminus
+2 Jace, Memory Adept
+1 Detention Sphere

Vs aggro (Blitz\Rg aggro):
-2 Dissipate
-1 Syncopate
-2 Think Twice
-1 Angel of Serenity
-1 Sphinx’s Revelation ( I hate this cut… but there really isn’t something better and drawing multiple of these in the early game can really hurt if you don’t have a Farseek)

+3 Rhox Faithmender
+2 Terminus
+2 Detention Sphere

That sums up a lot of the format, against Aristocrats you side in some Rest in Peace and side out Loxodon Smiters as they don’t do much, I also like post sideboard Dissipates as they have Falkenrath Aristocrats\Obzedat, ghost council\ Sorin, Lord of Innistrad so a lot of big game spells that you want to counter.

What I really liked about the deck is that unlike other “Farseek decks” this deck can function pretty nicely without having a Farseek in the opener since you have 4 Azorius Charms 2 Think Twice 2 [/Card]Augur of Bolas[/Card] 3 Loxodon Smiter 1Detention Sphere 1 Syncopate all as early plays unlike Jund for example that has a bunch of removals, you can’t rely on having Farseek every time so having good hands without it is a big upside for the deck.
Kessig wolf-Run is the stone nuts, props to Mellisa De-Tora and her testing team from the PT on this innovation Wolf Running a Rhox Faithmender is so much fun…+5+0? Gain 12? Don’t mind if I do…
So that’s that…phew that was long, hopefully you guys liked it although it was long. If you have any questions about the deck\sideboarding or suggestions please write here in the comments or you can contact me on Facebook\Magic Online .
In my next article I thought about updating the deck with the new set (Dragon Maze) including new cards and new threats against the deck, if you would like to see an article (also on Dragon Maze’s standard format in general) on this subject please reply in the comments!

Niv Shmuely
Magic online Account- Trunks132
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