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SA: Dragon’s Lair Salisbury 31/03/2024 (22 players) | Deep Dive Into Three Decks

Hello everyone! It’s Raj bringing you tidings from the recent Easter Sunday event held in Adelaide at Dragon’s Lair Salisbury. 22 players showed up and Steve Lowe went undefeated with Jund taking down fellow Jund pilot Liam Whelan in the final round for the win!

In this report instead of going over the usual breakdown of the room’s metagame and my own experience (and frothing over Jund every report…its a deck that rips your hand apart, kills your creatures then hits you hard…there aren’t many different ways I can say this for every event report the archetype wins!!), I picked out three players who brought innovative or budget lists and performed well with them! I’ll hope to give a decent insight into the principles these decks were built around. Massive thanks to Patrick, Scott and Talulla for sending through their lists, deck pictures and general thoughts!

  1. Nono-Red Stiflenought by Patrick Warnes (4th Place) Points: Urza’s Saga, Dig Through Time, Balance, Enlightened Tutor; Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath

Patrick has been jamming 7 point highlander in Adelaide for the past year and a half and so is a relative new comer to the community! He started off with Red stompy decks using the tried tested method of using fast mana to accelerate big red dragons and other equally fearsome monsters, once he settled into the format and put his brewing hat on he was able to come up with this deck! Incase you’re unfamiliar with the legacy variant of the deck, it uses stifle and other similar effects to cancel out Phyrexian Dreadnought’s ETB ability thus leaving you with a 1 mana 12/12 trampler that can hopefully kill the opponent in a couple of swings, it may seem like a combo deck at first glance, but in essence it is a protect-the-queen style synergistic tempo deck.
In 7 point highlander obviously apart from Stifle the other stifle cards can be very underwhelming costing 2 mana or more (Tale’s End still makes the cut in this list), so to compensate Patrick uses a lot of Torpor Orb effects such as Tocatli Honor Guard, Strict Proctor and Doorkeeper Thrull to make it so the Dreadnought sticks around, other negative ETBs in the deck you can cancel out are; Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath; various ‘Hunted’ creatures that give your opponent creatures, Lotus Field and Eater of Days.
But stopping ETBs doesn’t just synergize with cards in the list, it also messes with a lot of opposing strategies, good luck to anyone playing a Thassa’s Oracle strategy who gets paired vs this deck, it also stops Initiative triggers, Muxus’ ETB and various others. The list is also relatively inexpensive as it is not running any reserved list cards except for Phyrexian Dreadnought. Patrick mentioned the stand out cards on the day were Urza’s Saga and Mycosynth Gardens. Saga is another copy of the Dreadnought while also giving the deck a plan B and, Gardens is a low opportunity cost include for the deck, being able to copy a dreadnought and sacrificing it to the ETB.

Matchups faced were: Grixis Doomsday, Mardu Initiative, RW Aggro, Shops and RG Monsters.

2. 8 Point UW SharkStill by Scott Davidson-Bowey (6th Place) Points: Karakas, Mana Drain, Sensei’s Divining Top, Urza’s Saga, Snapcaster Mage, Force of Will, True Name Nemesis

Scott is well known to players grinding the competitive circuit in Adelaide as he judges most RCQs, he played the format once 6 years ago and decided to come back into it now and said he thoroughly enjoyed the day! (You know the format’s good when a judge plays it!)
He brought a deck that is a take on an old legacy archetype called ‘SharkStill’. The namesake card of the deck is Standstill, the way you break the symmetry of the card once you slam it is to continue to advance the board-state by performing game actions that involve not casting spells, such as cycling shark typhoons, plainscycling and eternalizing Timeless Dragons and utilizing Urza’s Saga to create tokens and finding Retrofitter Foundry.
The deck apart from doing everything traditional control decks do, also uses a variety of synergies to slowly accrue advantages over the course of a game such as: using Hall of Heliod’s Generosity to recur Shark Typhoon, Urza’s Saga, Standstill and Dress Down; Using Geier Reach Sanitarium in the opponent’s draw step with a Narset, Parter of Veils in play and Putting out tokens with Retrofitter Foundry to draw more cards off of Staff of the Storyteller among others.
Once the deck reaches an unassailable position it aims to win the game through a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria or Jace, the Mind Sculptor Ultimate, or by beating down with a True Name Nemesis or Triumph of Saint Katherine.
A deck like this takes a lot of skill and patience to pilot, as one error, one errant use of a cantrip can mean a game can slip away from you. Scott was very impressed with Retrofitter Foundry, it allowed him to hold up interaction and simultaneously apply pressure (he did flex his judge copy on me in our game), the card that impressed him least was Snapcaster Mage which mostly played the ambush viper role in most games and that he was looking to revamp the point spread in his deck for the next event.

Matchups faced were: 5c Domain Zoo, GB Natural Order, Mardu Initiative, Jund and Abzan Lands.

3. 8 Point Abzan Maverick + Lands by Talulla Verbeek (3rd Place) Points: Crop Rotation, Strip Mine, Karakas, Deathrite Shaman, Natural Order, Wasteland, White Plume Adventurer

Talulla has been a longstanding member of the 7 Point Highlander Community in Adelaide ever since the Pre-COVID days of playing with Adelaide Eternal in the UniSA Magill Campus (The good old days!). Talulla is an avid lands player and constantly experiments with and fine tunes her decks which are often in the Naya, Abzan and Jund variations, when you sit across from her you can expect a flurry of recurring Strip Mines and Wastelands ruining your manabase.
For this event Talulla decided to mash together two of her favourite archetypes: Lands and Maverick, this was an attempt to make the deck more threat dense and proactive, as a traditional lands shell can tend to spin its wheels which can be costly in today’s metagame. The deck features two toolboxes, one with various silver bullet or value generating creatures and the other is an assortment of lands that can either disrupt the opponent or win the game with Dark Depths, and these two toolboxes actually work really well together, for example Elvish Reclaimer and Knight of the Reliquary can help find your lands and Karakas can help protect or recur your legends in play.
What is really cool to see is the innovation of using Natural Order in a lands strategy, since this build of lands is more creature heavy you will always have something to Natural Order away, the two major NO targets in the deck are Primeval Titan as an ‘I Win!’ button or Hogaak which can act as a resilient threat.
Talulla said Scryb Ranger did a lot of work in her games, untapping Knights and Elvish reclaimers, blocking blue fliers and letting you hit ‘fake’ land drops. As a bit of a Maverick enjoyer myself, I can attest to the understated power of Scryb Ranger, it looks mediocre on paper but has so many more practical applications. On the other hand she was underwhelmed by Exploration and said it doesn’t play as well in a hybrid deck like this.

Matchups faced were: 8pt Grixis Control, Blue Moon, 8pt UW Balance, Jund, 8pt UW SharkStill

With events firing more often in Adelaide the community is growing with a lot of experienced modern, sealed and pioneer players hopping into the format which is a breath of fresh air in the local meta, and the result of this brewing can be seen in this event with a lot of budget and innovative decks doing well and breaking into the top 8. Adelaide has two more events coming up in the lead up to Mana Clash and there will definitely be an Adelaide contingent attending!