I wanted to build upon the “Slush Puppy” combo/control deck that I theory-crafted and piloted to a Top 8 finish in the previous Toowoomba Battlestation event. I feel that the package of Intution/Gifts Ungiven into a deterministic win is incredibly strong and I wanted to experiment with putting it into a more proactive shell.
For the uninitiated, the combo in “Slush Puppy” decks consists of casting Intuition into a pile of Lion’s Eye Diamond (LED), Sevinne’s Reclamation and Underworld Breach. You can add Brainfreeze as a 4th card if you’re casting Gifts Ungiven. Regardless of your opponent’s choice you’ll be able to get Underworld Breach into play as you can cast or flashback Sevinne’s reclamation as required. You then use LED to generate blue mana and recast Intuition if needed to put Brainfreeze and other fodder into your graveyard. From there you continue casting LED, making blue mana and casting Brainfreeze on yourself until you have enough mana and storm count to Brainfreeze your opponent’s entire deck. It’s aptly named “Slush Puppy” as there are lots of moving parts and it ends in a Brainfreeze.
I experimented with a 5c Midrange/Combo shell in local Brisbane events and felt it was well positioned to bring to an anticipated field of good-stuff midrange decks. I settled on this list for the event after discussion and testing with other Brisbane players. This deck’s main gameplan is to interact through hand disruption, light countermagic and efficient removal whilst assembling an “I win” sequence; whether it be through a one-sided wheel of fortune/mind twist or presenting a win with the Intuition/Gifts Ungiven package. The inclusion of powerful midrange cards such as Oko, Thief of Crowns, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath and Omnath, Locus of Creation allows the deck to pivot to playing “fair” magic or without diluting the main gameplan too much.
33 Players meant 6 rounds with a cut to Top 8. I checked my pairings, handed in my decklist and prepared to face my first opponent of the day.
Round 1 vs Aaron Uniacke on Temur Prowess (L 1-2, 0-1 Overall)
Aaron was the winner of the last Toowoomba Battlestation event and my only loss outside of Top 8 in that event. I expected him to be on the same Temur Prowess deck that he piloted at that event, I just hoped history wasn’t to repeat itself as we shuffled up for Game 1.
Game 1 I use hand disruption to take Aaron off threats as I hit my land drops. On my Turn 4 I am able to assemble a combo of Notion Thief, LED and Echo of Eons to mind twist Aaron and draw 14; effectively ending the game.
Trim the fat and interact and respect countermagic.
IN Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast, Blue Elemental Blast, Hydroblast, Veil of Summer, Vexing Shusher, Assassin’s Trophy, Submerge
OUT Remand, Miscalculation, Entomb, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Echo of Eon’s, Omnath, Locus of Creation, Wheel of Fortune, Lotus Petal
Aaron lands a Turn 1 Monastery Swiftspear and I manage to take his Ancestral recall during my Turn 1 with an Inquisition of Kozilek. Turn 2 Aaron drops a Collector Ouphe and my Turn 2 I Thought Erasure his best card. My Turn 3 I have no plays and die to a lethal combination of Manamorphose into Gush into more spells to kill me from 13.
I need bodies on board and gaining life is nice so some walkers gotta go.
IN Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Omnath, Locus of Creation
OUT Dack Fayden, Narset, Parter of Veils
I drop a Turn 2 Baleful Strix to hold back a Turn 1 Soul-Scar Mage. Baleful Strix eats a Lightning Bolt and I Abrupt decay the Soul-Scar Mage hoping to dodge a follow up threat. Aaron deploys a Turn 3 Kiln Fiend as I hold up a Notion Thief for Aaron’s Turn 4. I promptly die as Kiln Fiend is coupled with a lethal flurry of spells, including an Apostle’s blessing to ensure my Notion Thief cannot block for me.
Round 1 Wrap up:
My deck isn’t packing a ton of removal and Aaron’s deck demands removal anytime a creature is on board. I don’t feel great about this match up as a fast clock backed up with countermagic is very strong against me; I need to successfully resolve a fast “I win” to succeed in this style of match up.
Round 2 CJ on Lands (W 2-0, 1-1 Overall)
I have no idea what deck CJ is on as we sit down to play; I just know a loss now would likely end my dreams for Top 8.
I use targeted discard and removal to keep CJ off threats through the early turns of the game. CJ manages to create Marit Lage to try and sneak through a win, but Swords to Plowshares followed up with Intuition for a game winning package gets me there.
Expect some sideboard hate and respect Life from the Loam.
IN Soul-Guide Lantern, Sorcerous Spyglass, Toxic Deluge, Faerie Macabre, Submerge, Assassin’s Trophy
OUT Miscalculation, Remand, Entomb, Notion Thief, Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Echo of Eons
My Turn 3 Opposition Agent punishes CJ for trying to activate a fetchland in my endstep. CJ presents a Vampire Hexmage and threatens to create Marit Lage on my next endstep, but Sorcerous Spyglass forces him to activate Vampire Hexmage during my Main Phase. A follow up Oko, Thief of Crowns elks Marit Lage and Teferi, Time Raveler joins later to take over this game.
Round 2 Wrap up:
I feel quite favored against Lands decks. They generally can’t interact with my combos in meaningful ways so I’m only fearing Strip Mine, Wasteland or a very fast Marit Lage.
Round 3 Nathan on GWR Hatebears (W 2-1, 2-1 Overall)
Nathan was another non-Brisbane player I’d had no experience playing against. After our match he mentioned versing “Slush Puppy” decks before and that he was very familiar with the archetype; pretty cool considering I’d only heard of Brisbane players piloting the deck.
I have a very interactive hand, so I discard and destroy Nathan’s threats until I run out of spells and am stuck on 3 lands in hand. Nathan develops his board as I hit my 4th, 5th and 6th land drops. I am able to put my 7th land drop to good use as I draw Gifts Ungiven for the turn and cast it to present a win immediately.
Kill the hatebears, hate pieces and bring in sweepers. I saw high impact red cards Game 1 so Blue Blasts are good here too.
IN Hydroblast, Blue Elemental Blast, Pyroclasm, Toxic Deluge, Sorcerous Spyglass, Submerge, Assassin’s Trophy
OUT Remand, Miscalculation, Entomb, Echo of Eons, Narset, Notion Thief, Lotus Petal
I have another interactive hand where I am able to kill or discard Nathan’s highest impact threats. I am sitting behind a Leovold, Emissary of Tress as Nathan develops a much more impressive boardstate. I draw and play a Dack Fayden use him on myself to Draw 2 Discard 2; searching for something impactful. Nathan then drops a Blood Moon that leaves me with a Mono Red manabase until I succumb to beats by bears.
An early Sorcerous Spyglass reveal’s Nathan’shand of Tithe Taker, Remorseful Cleric, Skyclave Apparition, Collected Company and 2 lands. I name Remorseful Cleric to prevent it from disrupting my graveyard. I snag the Skyclave Apparition with another discard spell as Nathan plays out his threats and begins pressuring my life total. The Pyroclasm I was sitting on is able to sweep Nathan’s board and I sit on Intuition to present a win on the next turn. Nathan casts Collected Company hitting Thalia, Heretic Cathar and Stoneforge Mystic. On my Turn 5 I stare at my 4 lands in play and non-basic land in hand and realize I need to make an unorthodox Intuition pile to present the win. I cast Lion’s Eye Diamond and follow up with Intuition, holding priority and activating Lion’s Eye Diamond in response to add 3 Red mana to my pool. I present Underworld Breach, Sevinne’s Reclamation and basic Island to Nathan. My untapped Tundra means regardless of his choice I can put Underworld Breach into play and present a win from there.
Round 3 Wrap up:
I feel pretty well positioned against most hatebear decks as only a specific set of their creatures interact with the Underworld Breach combo. I can generally ignore beaters and the less oppressive hatebears and do my thing unimpeded. I also feel I made a mistake by not to fetching my basic Island earlier in Game 2. My mana was very well developed and it would have insulated me against Blood Moon; especially as I lost that game with a Hydroblast in hand. Lesson learnt.
Round 4 Yifei on Ux Artifacts (W 2-0, 3-1 Overall)
I’d versed Yifei a few times at Brisbane events and predicted he would be on a Blue based artifact deck. With Tolarian Academy being recently set to 1 Point I feel Yifei’s deck would be even stronger than before.
My early discard reveals a hand of Baleful Strix, Tribute Mage, Hullbreacher Tolarian Academy and other lands. Yifei deploys Tribute mage and finds a Thopter Foundry; I assume he’s trying to assemble a combo with Sword of the Meek. Later I fire off a Gifts Ungiven in his end step to present a winning pile. His Hullbreacher in play does not interact meaningfully with my win and his 2 unknown cards in hand cannot stop me either.
Prepare for countermagic and permanent based hate pieces. Trim slower cards as this matchup isn’t typically about creatures on board.
IN Red Elemental Blast, Pyroblast, Dovin’s Veto, Soul-Guide Lantern, Sorcerous Spyglass, Assassin’s Trophy, Veil of Summer, Faerie Macabre, Vexing Shusher
OUT Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, Omnath, Locus of Creation, Lotus Petal, Narset, Parter of Veils, Echo of Eons, Remand, Miscalculation, Entomb, Wheel of Fortune, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy.
I cast an early Sorcerous Spyglass to reveal a hand of Urza, Lord High Artificer, Aether Gust, Karn, Scion of Urza and lands. I name Karn, Scion of Urza and hold up my Pyroblast to counter Urza on the following turn. Yifei passes the turn back, even though his Ancient Tomb gave him the option of deploying Urza. On my next turn I cast Vexing Shusher, expecting it to get caught by Aether Gust; however, my 2/2 resolves and I’m able to counter Urza with my Pyroblast.
I cast Teferi, Time Raveler and my Vexing Shusher gets caught by Aether Gust in response. I choose to put Vexing Shusher on the bottom on my library, but my fetchland shuffle manages to put Vexing Shusher on top the following turn – this 2/2 really wanted to get in the red zone!
I bounce my Spyglass with Teferi and redeploy it to get more information about Yifei’s hand. Karn, Scion of Urza is still the card I choose to name and Yifei’s life total is quite low thanks to his Ancient Tomb and Vexing Shusher attacks.
Yifei goes to 3 life off casting a spell with his Ancient Tomb and I end the game with a Lightning Bolt to the dome in response.
Round 4 Wrap up:
Although I have no dedicated hate to Artifact decks in my sideboard I feel pretty confident regarding my match up. There isn’t enough interaction from them to stop the wins I present and my suite of cards can combo through scary artifact things such as Blightsteel Colossus or endless Thopter Foundry tokens. Just gotta dodge super-fast Lodestone Golem, Trinisphere and Sundering Titan shenanigans.
Round 5 Nick on UWR Slush Puppy (W 2-1, 4-1 Overall)
Nick has been an advocate for the power of the “Slush Puppy” archetype for a while now. I guess he decided the deck was so good he just had to run it. I didn’t have much experience in this pseudo mirror match but was hoping my in-depth knowledge of the deck could help me give me the edge.
My early discard spell reveals that Nick has a an incredibly strong hand of Force of Will, Intuition, Monastery Mentor, Miscalculation and 2 lands. I deploy a Leovold, Emissary of Tress and my follow up Wheel of Fortune gets the Miscalculation out of Nick’s hand. Nick deploys Monastery Mentor and begins making tokens with it.
I’m in a tight spot as I have to hold up my Abrupt Decay to stop nick from winning with an Intuition pile as long as he represents Intuition in my end step (Abrupt Decay will guarantee a destroyed Underworld Breach if Nick attempts the combo). If I Abrupt Decay the Mentor I cannot interact with an Underworld Breach win at all.
Nick taps out during his turn so I tap out for an Omnath, Locus of Creation and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. My creatures stare down Monastery Mentor, 4 Monk tokens and a 2/2 flying shark. Nick’s next turn is a flurry of cantrip into Path to Exile on my Omnath into Intuition to trigger prowess, leaving me dead to a lethal swing from 18 power of creatures.
Game 2 & 3
Nick calls for a judge as we sideboard for Game 2. Nick says that he played Game 1 with a sideboard card in his main deck; the Monastery Mentor was registered as a sideboard card and shouldn’t have been there in Game 1. Nick wasn’t familiar enough with the list to remember straight away. I didn’t suspect any ill intent and assumed Nick just preferred playing Mentor in the main deck. Nick did the correct thing by calling a judge on himself.
The judge explained that this is a Deck Error and that the associated penalty is a warning. This confused me as I understood if Nick had declared the card during Game 1 that the penalty would have been a game loss. The judge confirmed that it would be been a game loss if declared earlier and said although it may be unintuitive the penalty in this scenario would be a warning.
Nick took it upon himself to concede Game 2 and declare that he would choose to be on the draw for Game 3. I told Nick that he didn’t have to do that; but Nick must have felt it was the fairest thing to do. I definitely respected Nick’s choice to put the fairness of the game over an honest mistake in his favor.
Trim the removal as there are next to no creatures to kill, prepare for countermagic and respect the combo.
IN Dovin’s Veto, Sorcerous Spyglass, Faerie Macabre, Assassin’s Trophy, Force of Negation, Veil of Summer, Soul-Guide Lantern, Pyroblast, Red Elemental Blast, Vexing Shusher.
OUT Swords to Plowshares, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Remand, Miscalculation, Wheel of Fortune, Entomb, Lotus Petal, Baleful Strix, Omnath, Locus of Creation.
I deploy a Vexing Shusher on my Turn 2, allowing me to protect my future spells from countermagic. Nick drops an Ashiok, Dream Render on his Turn 3, hitting a Brainfreeze from my deck as he mills me and exiles my graveyard. I can no longer win through the combo with my Brainfreeze exiled.
I start hitting Ashiok with Vexing Shusher and respond to Nick’s Turn 4 Teferi, Time Raveler with a Veil of Summer to stop Teferi from bouncing my creatures this turn. I Main Phase my Opposition Agent and hit Teferi down to 3 loyalty. A hand disruption spell reveals Nick’s hand of Intuition, Brainfreeze, Faerie Macabre and Hydroblast; I take the Hydroblast to keep Vexing Shusher alive as my own Faerie Macabre in hand will interrupt Nick’s combo if he attempts it.
Nick deploys a Jace the Mind Sculptor and uses it to bounce my Opposition Agent. My Shusher kills Jace but Nick is able to cast Intuition before I get Opposition Agent back on the table. Nick makes a reactive pile of Supreme Verdict, Hall of Heliod’s Generosity and Shark Typhoon. I give Nick the Hall and use a Soul-Guide Lantern to exile Shark Typhoon from his graveyard before he can make use of it.
I assemble the combo of Hullbreacher and Dack Fayden to keep forcing Nick to discard 2 cards as I make 2 treasures. My creatures are able to pick off Nick’s planeswalkers before Nick establishes a Monastery Mentor, Monk token and a Zombie token from Field of the Dead. An Assassin’s Trophy on Field of the Dead and a hardcast Faerie Macabre are able push through and get Nick to zero.
Round 5 Wrap up:
This matchup is really tough. I feel slightly unfavored as I think the UWR build of the deck has a much more favorable late game due to its Field of the Dead and card advantage packages. We both had quite strong draws and none of these games were ended by the Breach combo. I guess it goes to show that you don’t need the combo to win and that you can prevent losing to the combo if you come prepared.
Round 6 Anthony on UWR Slush Puppy (ID 4-1-1 Overall)
Anthony and I decide to Intentionally draw as the standings show it would be the lowest risk way to ensure a Top 8 finish. We use this time to get some lunch at Wunder Bar and recharge before the Top 8.
IN Grilled Cheese Brisket Sandwich, Ginger Apple Cider, Seasoned Fries, 5394kj
OUT About $30
Round 7 David Trueman on Jund (L 1-2 4-2-1 Overall)
I am mentally exhausted at this point; the massive day and less than fantastic sleep the night before was catching up with me.
I believe David was the only Non-Brisbane player in the Top 8. I recall he was on Jund as I observed a game earlier in the day as I wandered around between rounds. I feel very favored in fair match ups; just have to dodge Strip Mine and Wasteland as they are very good against my deck.
I kill an early Scavenging Ooze as David deploys a Liliana, The Last Hope on his Turn 3. It goes unchecked for several turns as I struggle to hit my 3rd and 4th land drops. I hit my 3rd land and deploy Oko, elking David’s only creature. Oko is promptly answered by Angrath’s Rampage. I hit my 4th Land drop and deploy Omnath, Locus of Creation. David plays a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet leaving open 1 mana.
I miss on drawing a land so I decide casting Wheel of Fortune to draw any fetchland is my best chance to present a win on the spot. I hit a Polluted Delta and am able to flashback a Sevinne’s Reclamation on Underworld Breach and quickly assemble a win from there.
Take out weaker cards and respect Wrenn & Six Strip mine, Wasteland and minor sideboard hate. Prepare for generically strong creature cards.
IN Soul-Guide Lantern, Sorcerous Spyglass, Assassin’s Trophy, Blue Elemental Blast, Hydroblast, Toxic Deluge, Submerge, Veil of Sumer
OUT Remand, Miscalculation, Entomb, Notion Thief, Echo of Eons, Wheel of Fortune, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
(I was so tired I played a 61-card deck in Game 2, I only realized this as I’m writing this report)
A Turn 1 Deathrite Shaman from David into Wasteland, Stripmine and Eternal Witness getting back Stripmine ensure I don’t get to play magic for Game 2.
No changes; 61 cards sneak through unnoticed.
This game is an absolute grind fest. I Submerge David’s Turn 1 Deathrite Shaman in response to a Wasteland activation on my Raugrin Triome. This way David is forced to exile his own Wasteland if he wishes to use Deathrite for extra mana this turn. He obliges and exiles his Wasteland to Deathrite to follow up with some hand disruption and a Hexdrinker. I use targeted discard to take out a Questing Beast leaving David with Eternal Witness and 2 lands.
I use another discard spell to take the Eternal Witness and I Abrupt Decay Deathrite Shaman so I can combo uninterrupted if I draw Intuition or Gifts Ungiven. David levels up the Hexdrinker into a 4/4 with protection from instants. Fortunately, I am able to draw Oko, Thief of Crowns to answer the Hexdrinker and pivot the game to be about Oko.
This is where things start going downhill. We are both on 3 lands as David casts Demonic Tutor and follows up with a Nihil Spellbomb; threating to nuke my graveyard. I cast a Brainstorm to find a Teferi, Time Raveler, Brainfreeze and LED. Brainfreeze and LED are almost completely dead cards with the Nihil Spellbomb in play.
I cast my LED and David activates the Nihil Spellbomb in response to exile my graveyard.
I turn my LED into an elk to trade for the elked Hexdrinker and keep Oko at high loyalty. I play a 4th land and plan to play Teferi on the following turn.
My life total is pretty low at this point thanks to Hexdrinker. We trade 3/3 elks and David drops 4th land into a Huntmaster of the Fells, making a 2/2 token. I deploy Teferi and bounce the wolf token and turn Huntmaster into a 3/3 with no abilities. David follows up with a 4 power Tarmogoyf as I draw for my turn, acknowledge my lifetotal of 4 and realize I’m dead on board.
Round 7 Wrap up:
Strip Mine and Wasteland are powerful cards. I was mentally fatigued going into this round and I feel I could have won this game if I had played tighter.
Here is a list of mistakes I made that could have changed the outcome of this game:
1: It would have made more sense to Abrupt Decay the Hexdrinker and not the Deathrite Shaman. I only had a few cards in my deck that Deathrite Shaman could interact with whilst a levelled up Hexdrinker was a much more difficult threat to answer with a much faster clock. I was lucky to find Oko when I did.
2: I could have used Oko’s -5 ability to exchange control of my LED and David’s elked Hexdrinker. Oko was on high loyalty and I missed this interaction in the moment. This play would have put me far ahead on board.
3: I didn’t need to Elk the Huntmaster of the Fells; I should have made a food token with Oko instead. I had a Blue Elemental Blast in hand that I could untap and cast it on Huntmaster. I locked myself out of this line as elking Huntmaster made it green. Furthermore; I could respond to Huntmasters transform trigger by killing it with Blue Elemental Blast it if David didn’t cast Tarmogoyf during his next turn.
I was very happy with the overall performance of the deck for this event. The combination of hand disruption and powerful 1 and 2 card sequences made the deck feel incredibly powerful. My wins on the day were pretty evenly spread between wheel/mind twisting my opponent, presenting the “Slush Puppy” pile and playing “fair” midrange magic. Games ending where my opponent were holding dead or narrow cards were common. The deck demands different types of answers for each of its game plans; things just have to line up well for my opponents to be able to cover all bases.
I felt my worst match ups were low to the ground interactive decks such as Ux tempo decks and aggressive hatebear strategies; I was fortunate not to play against a lot of them on the day. My matchup against grindy, good-stuff decks felt great; that is until Strip Mine and Wasteland join the party. Blood Moon was good against me as expected. Blood Moon is still totally beatable, especially if prepared for.
Thought Erasure was great all throughout the day. Being Inquisition/Thought-Seize number 3 allowed more consistency in playing hand disruption and the surveil 1 was fantastic at getting me where I needed to be. Surveil is much more powerful than Scry in this deck. I didn’t find the extra 1 mana cost too obstructive as my deck couldn’t really capitalize on it anyway. This card will likely see more play across decks I make going forward.
Vendilion Clique felt great in this build of the deck, it just pulled so much weight! It can check if the coast is clear before your combo, jump in front of an attacking creature, put pressure on planeswalkers, tuck away your worst card and gets value from Hullbreacher, Notion Thief, Narset and Leovold. It’s truly earnt its place in this deck.
Vexing Shusher was pretty unnecessary and could have been something else. I had a lot of my bases covered with the number of sideboard cards that were good at fighting on the stack. The fact that it is answerable by Hydroblast, Blue Elemental Blast, Aether Gust or any creature removal is another point against it.
I’d like to find room in the 75 for 1 or 2 more powerful midrange cards that can be good in a wide range of circumstances. I found that outside of Uro and Omnath my creatures were just too small and mopey and the majority of my planeswalkers didn’t impact the board at all. I’d like to experiment with Vraska, Golgari Queen, Tasigur, the Golden Fang and other threat/card advantage cards moving forward.
I don’t think there is a best shell for the “Slush Puppy” combo yet; I’m just chuffed that I was able to adapt it to a solid finish. I cast my 3 Point Demonic Tutor once during this event and it was to find a land; I’d still play this combo with 3 less points. I’m going to keep jamming this combo into decks until it gets more points added – and then I’ll probably still keep playing it.
A huge thank you to our judges Tyrone and Riley for running the event. $800 in cash prizes given away on the day! Well done to our everyone in the top 8, and especially well done to our winner Eddie McCormack and finalist David Trueman!
Top 8 Deck Lists
|Player’s Standing||Player’s Name||Player’s Deck List Link|
|1st||Eddie McCormack||RG Channel Monsters|
|2nd||David Trueman||Jund Midrange|
|3rd||Andre Abelita||Mono R Goblins|
|4th||Anthony Vanderkop||UWR Sevinne’s Breach|
|5th||Aaron Uniacke||RUG Prowess|
|6th||Ethan Cho||Jeskai Tempo (Acall)|
|7th||Brandon Rashad||5c Breach Combo|