2nd Last at EW2017 with Ambush Viper Tempo (10th)

I was going to try and write a huge preamble and such, but I’ll get right to the point.
At GP Minneapolis I went 4-0 with Jeskai Mentor to win 1 bye to Eternal Weekend.
At GP Indianapolis I went 4-0 with Grixis Paradox to win 1 bye to Eternal Weekend.

This is the list I registered at Eternal Weekend
4 Snapcaster Mage
1 Monastery Mentor
2 Young Pyromancer
4 Force of Will
3 Mental Misstep
2 Pyroblast
2 Flusterstorm
1 Disenchant
2 Dack Fayden
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise
1 Gifts Ungiven
1 Brainstorm
1 Ponder
1 Gush
1 Gitaxian Probe
4 Preordain
3 Swords to Plowshares
1 Time Walk
1 Sol Ring
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
3 Tundra
3 Volcanic Island
3 Scalding Tarn
3 Flooded Strand
1 Plains
1 Island
1 Mountain
1 Library of Alexandria

2 Pithing Needle
2 Wear//Tear
1 Abrade
1 Pyroblast
1 Swords to Plowshares
2 By Force
1 Containment Priest
2 Rest In Peace
2 Mindbreak Trap
1 Red Elemental Blast

Round 1: Bye

  • Matches: 1-0
  • Rounds: 2-0

Round 2: Bye

  • Matches: 2-0
  • Rounds: 4-0

Round 3: Kyle Teagan - UW Landstill

  • Matches: 3-0
  • Rounds: 6-0

Game 1: I use Jace to end this game – it was uneventful as Kyle had a Factory and an Island for most of the game as I made land drops, and blew his standstill out to start pressuring.

In: 2 Pithing Needle, 1 Red Elemental Blast, 1 Pyroblast, 1 Wear//Tear
Out: 4 Force of Will, 1 Sol Ring

I board in the needles to name Factory and Wasteland, and the Wear//Tear to destroy a Moat. I board out the Force of Wills because I want to be the proactive deck in this matchup, using my Snapcasters to draw cards or answer Standstill or Jace via a Pyroblast.

Game 2: I break Standstill when Kyle is at 7 cards and properly position myself by discarding Force of Will and just over-threatening him with Snapcasters to push the advantage. Eventually we blow each other’s hands out, with him having 1 card and me having 3 or 4, and I probe, seeing Emrakul the Aeon’s Torn and then play a Pyromancer and make some tokens, which are being held back by Factory. After he plays his second factory, I stick ‘em with a needle and start attacking to close the game.

Round 4: Feature Match - Sean O'Brien - Nono-Color Stax

  • Matches 4-0
  • Rounds 8-1

This match is on Camera, so I will only speak of key plays: I will say the Dack Fayden fuck up on numbering was NOT malicious – I’ve played this format for 13 years, and I knew that when we started that he was on Smokestack, and I felt I needed to play as quickly as possible as if he had Ensnaring Bridge or Tabernacle etc, I may need to play around some obscure gamestates that would require time to get through. A judge was around us the entire match, as well. I am 100% fine with being known for being a dick or whatever, but I have never in the 13 years I’ve played been a cheater, and I never will be.

Game 1: I use a disenchant for value and get punished for it by Steel Hellkite

In: 2 Pithing Needle, 1 Abrade, 2 Wear//Tear, 2 By Force, 1 Swords to Plowshares
Out: 2 Pyroblast, 3 Mental Misstep, 2 Flusterstorm, 1 Gifts Ungiven

Game 2: I mulliganed to 6 and kept a Preordain hand figu
ring I’d be able to get a 2nd land and at least stay somewhat afloat, but I hit Ancestral Recall but don’t hit a land. I feared Strip Mine, but instead he had Ghost Quarter, which he used in the Upkeep and it finds Mountain which turned on my Abrade. Next turn, he Ghost Quarters me again assuming I don’t have 3 basics, and I find the Plains that turned on my Plowshares. He did a really good job of keeping me off blue, and eventually I get to a really low life before stabilizing. At one point, I use Dack Fayden to steal a Precursor Golem token before I plowshares them, to take my life from 1 to 4.

Game 3: This game goes to time. He opens Lodestone, and I open Library, Lotus, Ruby. He hits for 5, and plays a Wire. End of Turn I blast the Golem with blow then Abrade the Tangle Wire. Eventually, he gets another wire and a Thorn with a Crucible, but no wasteland. He hits a smokestack. I recall at one point he has a Tangle Wire at 2, a Smokestack at 1, and a Thorn. I flash in Snapcaster with my two open mana, which gives me enough to sacrifice Snapcaster, tap 2, and drop Dack. I thought about being cute with taking Crucible but if I take crucible, smokestack can get to 2 and then to 3 before I can use dack again to swipe it, so I decide to just take the stack and get rid of it immediately. Time is ticking, and we get to a point where I can kill him through his Tabernacle, which I do.

Round 5: Tim Morrison - Dredge

  • Matches: 4-1
  • Rounds: 9-3

Game 1 I play turn 1 Jace, and feel great when he plays Sapphire, but then he follows it up with Bazaar. Unfortunately, he dredges perfect, and before he even has to Fatestitcher he has enough to Kill me.

In: 2 Pithing Needle, 1 Plowshares, 2 Rest in Peace, 1 Containment Priest
Out: 1 Mountain, 2 Pyroblast, 1 Gifts Ungiven, 1 Sol Ring

Game 2 I play turn 1 Pithing needle, and on his 3 turns he plays 3 bazaars. I play a Rest in Peace to lock it up by using Force of Will on his Serenity.

Game 3: This game haunts me. I have a hand of Black Lotus, Ruby, Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Dig through Time, Monastery Mentor, Containment Priest. I run the numbers, and I have 9 lands I can draw, I can draw Pearl, Sapphire, and that turns on Mentor, make a token, containment priest, with Force and Mistep backup… or I can draw one of my 4 pithing needle/Rest in peace, or I could even Draw one of my Dack Faydens to try and hit a white mana source and still have Priest up, and I can also try to chain a broken spell like Ancestral or Brainstorm or Ponder to dig further. I decide that my hand is strong enough to chance that. I don’t draw a land, and even though my opponent doesn’t actually dredge this game, he has Bloodghast, a couple therapies, a couple bridges, and eventually a Hollow One, and I lose.

Round 6: David Szatkowski - Doomsday

  • Matches: 5-1
  • Rounds: 11-4

Game 1 I Gitaxian Probe him and see Lotus, Doomsday, Vamp, Mystical, and Ponder. I know that if he ponders into anything I’m probably dead, and a few turns later, I’m dead. This guy has much bigger balls than me since I couldn’t find a Doomsday list I liked, but at the same time, I know Doomsday inside and out so I know exactly what I want to do.

In: 1 Red Elemental Blast, 1 Pyroblast, 2 Mindbreak Trap
Out: 1 Swords to Plowshares, 1 Disenchant, 1 Mountain, 1 Swamp

Game 2: I mulligan to 6, and keep Volcanic, Tundra, Lotus, Ruby, Snapcaster, Dack Fayden. I figure my tournament is over, but I keep it. I play Lotus, land, Dack (Avoiding the Mindbreak Trap he removed to Force of Will in game 1), and start looting. I assume I could find Ancestral or Trasure Cruise to gain back the Cards, but instead Dack Fayden keeps filering lands. I don’t put a 2nd land into play until roughly turn 9. To give you an idea of how long this goes, I use Dack’s -6, and STILL get him back to 14 loyalty. We blow each other’s hands out with our counter war which I won, and I finally Dig into a Mentor, and play a Mentor, then flusterstorm one of his spells to make a token. Because of how low my deck is, I knew there was a 100% chance of drawing Snapcaster between my Draw Step and Dack, which allows me to time walk. I then draw the pyroblast I stacked with my Dig, and get him for exact.

Game 3: This game isn’t really exciting. I play Ancestral, I snapcast Ancestral, I flusterstorm something of his, and eventually I let him resolve Doomsday, and then kill him with Dack Fayden after having his last card stuck in his deck.

Round 7: Travis Compton - Dredge

  • Matches: 6-1
  • Rounds: 13-4

Game 1 he Mulligans to 1, and gets no bazaar. I board similar to my other match, and hit a RIP off my draw step mid-game to basically luck out after he Abrupt Decays a needle and a RIP.

Round 8: Ruben Gonzalez - Grixis Nights Whisper Theives

  • Matches 6-2
  • Rounds: 13-6

These games weren’t close. I knew it was a bad matchup because the Mistep/Pyroblast deck can’t stop Nights Whisper. He just always had 5 cards. Ruben is an insanely good Spanish player who’s been playing the format longer than I have even, so I knew I was in for a battle. I wasn’t even upset losing this match even though it effectively knocked me out, as I opened Library, Volcanic, Pyrolast, Force of Will x2, Blue Card x2, and still just got RAN OVER. It wasn’t fair.

Round 9: Andrea Mengucci - Grixis Nights Whisper

  • Matches: 7-2
  • Rounds: 15-6

This was the exact opposite of Ruben’s game. I ran him over and he had no chance. I don’t remember much of this game except that Snapcaster Mages were MVP.

My sideboard was:
In: 1 Pyroblast, 1 Red Elemental Blast, 1 Swords to Plowshares, 2 Mindbreak Trap
Out: 4 Force of Will, 1 Plains

Round 10: Xin Sui - URW Silence Mentor

  • Matches: 8-2
  • Rounds: 17-6

Snapcasters again were MVP. Game 2, he taps out at 15 life to play a Snapcaster to plow my Mentor, and I make 4 Mentor Tokens. I then Plow his Snapcaster, responding by Plow his snapcaster, respond by Plow his Snapcaster. I then Snapcaster and Plow my Snapcaster, and hit him for 20 with my tokens.
I end up in 10th Place, which really stung. I thought for sure I had the ability to Top 8 – to fall that short was heartbreaking, but then as I was finally starting to get comfortable with it, Jimmy McCarthy (one of my best friends and a Groomsman in my wedding) comes up and says “man you played really well, how does 2nd last feel?” and now you know why I named my post that .

My sideboard was:
In: 1 Pyroblast, 1 Red Elemental Blast, 1 Swords to Plowshares, 2 Mindbreak Trap
Out: 4 Force of Will, 1 Sol Ring (He saw in game 1 I played it, so I thought maybe he'd think I'm on full power and keep in stony, which is dead otherwise)

Some considerations:
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy: I hate this card. It’s supposedly good against shops, but I actually fear the games where they DON’T draw a sphere more, because that means I’m probably needing to deal with 3 to 5 creatures by turn 3. Snapcaster does that much better in my opinion as well as sometimes being an Ambush Viper that blocks a key Revoker, or a Foundry Inspector, or a Factory. Snapcaster saved me in a game that Jace Vryn’s Prodigy would not have against Sean O’Brien, and Jace was much better against Landstill as well as against the Grixis decks.
Strip Mine: I always dislike this one, because while it feels great to get a Library, the effect is actually just setting you back further against Workshops because they play Inspector. Getting a Bazaar with the Tempo deck playing only 1 Mentor isn’t enough to stall Dredge enough to steal game 1s, and I wanted to place all 3 basics in my main so I could free up the Sideboard spot for Containment Priest (which originally was a Mountain, with the Maindeck Mountain replaced by Strip Mine)
Balance: The effect of balance is great, obviously. However, I wanted all my plays to have Deterministic Lines, and Balance has variances that just make it not a good draw in certain circumstances. I also know that I am the type of player to intentionally put myself into bad situations, just to try and blow someone out with Balance.
Merchant Scroll: This card doesn’t find Time Walk, Plowshares, or Treasure Cruise, so I would 100% play Mystical Tutor over it. However, I decided to play Gifts Ungiven over Mystical.
Gifts Ungiven: This spot was originally Pieces of the Puzzle and then later Fact or Fiction, but like Balance, sometimes you just don’t see enough cards that make those cards good. Value based Gifts Ungivens (Cruise, Dig, Ancestral, Snapcaster – etc) just puts games further out of reach for your opponents. Moving forward, this might become something else entirely, but I was okay with having it.

My thoughts on the Metagame:
Workshop is obviously above and beyond the best strategy to be on. However, for the first time I DON’T think Workshop needs restricting. I also don’t believe Sphere needs to be restricted. Here’s my thoughts:
Phyrexian Revoker: Like Chalice, this card just proactively OR retroactively shuts down whatever card the opponent is using to try and get back into the game, be that Dack Fayden, Sol Ring, even Lotus Petal.
Walking Ballista: Let us call a spade a spade: Rich freaking 20’d people with this card in the top 8 – this card is above the curve.
Arcbound Ravager: If they really want to slow down the deck’s resilliancy, this guy fits the bill.
Foundry Inspector: This guy is the card that makes the deck tick currently. If you’re not playing this guy in Workshops, you’re wrong. He’s above the curve, to the point in my testing it was 100% Counter or destroy immediately, or lose.

Workshop is fine. This format deserves to have an affinity deck, which is what this is. As much as I have hated Workshop in the past, this is the first tournament in 12 years that has been won with a deck playing the card. I believe the current workshop decks are great, and something should happen, but Sphere shouldn’t be considered at all, and neither should workshop. Let affinity exist, it isn’t bad for the format, but make it so they can’t just randomly 20 people with Ballista, or at least make it so they can’t protect themselves easily from By Force or Shatter effects.

To finish: There ain’t no party like a Nick Coss party! Eternal Weekend was amazing, and I already am excited for 2018. There’s too many people to thank – basically, if I talked to you or played against you, you’re a cool dude and make Vintage great.

last edited by 13NoVa

Great recap, thanks for sharing. Sounds like a great run, congrats! I also appreciated your insights at the end too, as well as your sideboarding considerations . A perfect tourney report.

last edited by joshuabrooks

There was a time we played with Hurkyl's maindeck - or Rack and Ruin or Ancient Grudge. Maybe it is that time again. I don't see why restrict anything right now - specially when we don't know the whole Top 32 story yet.

@fsecco said in 2nd Last at EW2017 with Ambush Viper Tempo (10th):

There was a time we played with Hurkyl's maindeck - or Rack and Ruin or Ancient Grudge. Maybe it is that time again. I don't see why restrict anything right now - specially when we don't know the whole Top 32 story yet.

I would also be fine with Workshops staying as they are - I feel like this deck, obviously with a rough Game 1 due to the need for Pyroblasts/Mental Missteps/Flusterstorms can fight game 2 and Game 3 readily.

Sidenote: Spell Snare will be in my decks for the forseeable future.

@13nova I think taking out 2 Pyros for 2 Spell Snare seems quite a healthy choice.

Been playing about 65 cards worth of this list in the Leagues with solid success. Some thought's...

  • Spell Snare has been a beast for me, it's great vs shops on the play, great against the Xerox lists running around as it hits: snapcaster mage, Young Pyromacer, seeker of the way, time walk and abrade. I also ran into standstill where spell snare was a star countering Standstills and Mana drains.

  • I've liked abrade maindeck over disenchant, but I can see arguments either way.

  • I didn't even try Gifts, party because I usually play late night after work and dont have the mental equity to spare at that point to make good Gifts decisions, and partly because its bugged.

  • I thought the list I ran at NYSE was the best deck for Dack Fayden, but my god is Dack a house in this list. I'm very bearish on Jace TMS these days, and am considering dropping a Jace for a third Dack.

@p3temangus Thanks for the input.

Gifts could very easily be anything else - Balance wasn;'t a card I wanted due to my penchant to put myself in bad situations, trying to over-extend to a blowout. Mystical tutor, another artifact/enchantment spell, engineered explosives, Dack #3. I wouldn't remove Jace, but Dack #3 I highly considered.

@13nova Although this is fairly obvious, being able to sit on a snapcaster mage with Spell Snare, Pyroblast, Misstep and potentially flusterstorm in the yard is a great feeling.

@p3temangus Very much so. Rich tried the list yesterday and got steamrolled by Landstill, but his play was to jam Young Pyromancer turn 2, which I believe to be wrong.

This deck plays a lot like the European 1 Gush Psychatog deck did in 2005. You counter big threats, you destroy small threats, and then eventually you play checkmate, usually in one or two turns.

In his game 2, I would have played a fetch and pass to represent both pyroblast AND flusterstorm, then next turn played mountain and had Pyroblast and Flusterstorm up.

Only reason I'm mentioning this is because if you play the deck like one of the Pyromancer decks back in the 4 gush days, or like a Delver deck, you're going to have a bad time. There were PLENTY of times where I preordained a Pyromancer or Mentor to the bottom in order to find cards that extended the game. Their decks are usually not designed to go as long as ours is.

I'm curious how this list would perform vs 4 maindeck hangarback walkers + 4 maindeck precursor golems. I feel like that's the best shops plan vs mass sweepers/4 snapcasters. Did you face any shops decks running a full package of each?

last edited by Guest


I only played against sean o'brien in the main event, but I did enough testing to feel comfortable in that matchup

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