A little bit about me: I have been playing since I was 12 and what I consider competitively since I was 16. I never have had much of an opportunity to travel and play as much as I would like, but I just recently came off of Active Duty in the Army so hopefully I can have more time to play Magic in bigger venues. I like to think that I am a good player and play all the formats well, but I am nowhere on the level as the best. My first combo deck was vintage belcher at 16 back in 2005 love the deck and that’s what really got me into playing magic more than Kitchen table. Enough about me onto the point.

MTG-GP-Vancouver-2014

The day of GP Vancouver started off at 0800 with my buddy knocking on my hotel door waking me and my wife up. She answered it and he stormed telling me to wake up to go with him to the Convention center. I groaned and told him to let me sleep, that since I had two byes I wasn’t going till 1000. Well peer-pressure sucks and he dragged me out and we made it there at 0830. First thing we did is check the board to make sure I had my byes. I didn’t. I freaked out. I panicked. I ran to the front and mush mouthed what I could to the Tournament Organizer about my situation. Turns out my LGS where I won my GPT had failed to report it to DCI. They are a fantastic LGS, have great prize support and support all the formats, I think they possibly just didn’t go through all the way with it or something but I was still upset that it happened. Distraught I asked about possible solutions to either; get a hold of the store owner (they were assuredly asleep) or find the Judge who judged the GPT. Thankfully the judge was judging this event and I was able to find him with the help of the other judges and got my byes in order. Made it through that Maze thankfully, hopefully I can get out of the rest.

Here is the list I registered:

 

So why would I play a deck like this? It looks terrible and just loses to everything right? Well it doesn’t. While it is pretty impossible to beat mono-red burn, Maze’s end just does a great job of not interacting with so much of the field that it is hard to actually deal with. The decks game one win percentage is just amazing vs the current meta since no one is prepared to deal with it (minus burn decks, I’m not even considering them as part of this discussion since it’s such a low chance to beat). Of the 15 rounds I played of the GP, I lost only 3 game ones. That’s fantastic to me and takes a lot of stress off. Of course once people realize what you are trying to do it becomes vital that the SB does all it can to get you there and win the match.

Card Choices

Mazes-End

Maze’s End – This is the main win condition and as such is a 4 of. For those that don’t know what the card does. It’s a land that comes into play tapped, it taps for 1 colorless, and has the ability: {3}, {T}, Return Maze’s End to its owner’s hand: Search your library for a Gate card, put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library. If you control ten or more Gates with different names, you win the game.  THAT’S RIGHT it’s an UNCOUNTERABLE WINCON in standard. That wins you the game on the spot.

Gates – I run 2 of all the gates except Selesnya since primary colors are G and W. Some choose to run 1 of in the Rakdos and Dimir to shore up your other gate colors. While this is a good idea it leaves you too vulnerable to Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, Nightveil Specter and other ways to either destroy or steal your gates. True, it doesn’t happen often but I don’t feel like it should even happen. I’ll touch of this more when I talk about my round 4 match.

Shocklands – I run these over the basics of primary colors since they are two colors, obviously. I don’t feel that the two life is ever a big deal and I’ve never lost a game if I’ve had to shock myself to play something. It’s important to have all your colors accessible and I only shock myself when it’s absolutely need.

I run 28 lands it may seem like much, but especially for game 1 I want to always play a land if I can. Missing land drops in this deck is usually a death sentence; this deck can’t deal with that if it wants to win. It gets important mid game to be able to activate your maze’s end while having 2-3 mana up, that requires 7 lands in play. It’s important to know that if you have a gate in your hand that you don’t have in play, to not play that gate unless you have to. You always want to be activating your Maze and playing the Maze for the turn. This assures that when you have 8 gates in play you can just play the other gate and then activate your Maze winning a turn sooner than your opponents may be ready for.

Fogs – Well these are the 16 cards that make the deck function: without them the deck is useless. Important to know is that Riot Control prevents ALL damage that would be dealt this turn to you and gains you life for each creature your opponent controls. This is important for burn.

Supreme Verdict – It’s an Uncounterable Day of Judgment that helps keep you in the game and save your fogs for when they are needed.

Detention Sphere – A great catch all removal for only 3. It is difficult for decks to deal with once you take their stuff away from them and helps keep your life high while you can save your fogs for when they are needed.

Merciless Eviction – It’s a 3 of in the deck and acts as Verdict 5,6, and 7. But the fun part about this card is that it Exiles whatever you choose to get rid of. Takes out gods when they are active, problem planeswalkers, pesky Pithing Needles and anything giving you a headache keeping you from winning.

Urban Evolution – Only a 2 of, but this card is stellar. I have won EVERY game in which I have resolved this card. It digs so deep and gets you extra lands in play. Getting more fogs is important but if you can get two maze’s ends in play you can win the game two turns sooner than before and that is HUGE in this deck.

The Free Slots:

This deck has a very tight list and doesn’t have a whole lot of room for extra slots. Giving you the best chance to win game one is vital and the sideboard is where the innovation in a 5 color deck can shine but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Negate – I currently run 3, and while these are important they may get shaved in the future to two. Being able to keep opponents off plansewalkers or hitting any non-creature spells that can threaten you in game 1 helps so much.

Bow of Nylea – This little enchantment is card #61. Gains 3 life when you need and puts cards into your library. It beats Jace, Memory Adept all on his own and if an Ashiok does take 2 gates in game 1. You can still force a win by decking your opponent just keep putting fogs back into your deck and pulling out gates to shuffle them in.

Sideboard

Crackling-Perimeter

Crackling Perimeter – Everytime I play this my opponent stops and picks up the card, their eyes get huge, and the cringe. Kills PW’s if needed and how can your opponent win when you fog them and shoot them for 5 or more a turn? They can’t. Comes in vs monoblack control, U/W, Esper, Burn Based decks, and RG Monsters.

Wear // Tear – Does exactly what you want it to for so cheap. Preferred to abrupt decay since you can hit multiple problems with 1 card.

Turn // Burn – Took me a while to stumble on this bro. The deck hates and I mean hates mutavault with a passion. But you can’t play last breath because now you lose to Obzedat, Ghost Council. I needed a card that could deal with both and this guy does. It’s so versatile I love it. Turn a Master of waves, kills the tokens, turn and burn gods, turn and burn Obzedat, or even more fun, turn and obzedat during Main Phase 2 and watch your opponent cry when you destroy it or exile it with Verdict or Eviction.

Gainsay – Great vs monoblue devotion and makes your match-up vs U/W and esper even stronger.

Merciless Eviction – More wrath effects.

Bow of Nylea – Helps vs Red based burn and mill based effects.

Some people scoff at the fact that this deck is 61 cards maindeck, (my round 8 opponent was visibly upset to lose to me and to hear that I had 61 in the main.) In a deck like this 61 cards doesn’t affect you much if any. Remember you are in essence tutoring each turn for what you need (lands) so you’ll see the spells you need in timely fashion.

Matchups & Sideboarding

Elspeth-Okay-Face

This deck I feel has a good match-up vs most of the field thanks to its high game one winning percentage. Here’s a breakdown of where I think the deck sits in the meta:

Extremely Favorable:

U/W and Esper Control – This is Maze’s Ends best match-up. it’s so good that I have mulled to 5 on the play, not played a 3rd land till turn seven, and STILL won. I would say it’s close to unlosable. They don’t have a whole lot of counters for your fogs and they normally won’t be ready for your negates so when they tap out for a jace or Elspeth, Sun’s Champion it’s an easy counter. In this match-up though, I’m okay with letting Jace, Architect of Thought resolve. It’s not as scary as it is in the Blue Devotion decks.

Sideboarding:

Watch out for needles and Jace, Memory Adept. After Sideboard go for landing a Perimeter early on turn 2 if you can, so always red gate turn 1 and shock if you can to get it down quickly. The rest speaks for itself keep playing lands and pinging them. Counter Sphinx’s Revelations and AEtherling and you’re golden. D sphere Planeswalkers or anything keeping you from winning. Keep Verdicts in for Elspeth Tokens.

Favorable

Domri

G/R Monsters – This is a pretty good match-up for the deck, although most players seem to think otherwise. Sure they have tons of creatures but that’s it. They don’t run a whole lot reach but when they are maxed out on Flesh // Blood it can get tough. The best thing to do is start fogging when you get at around 10 or so life. Do the best you can to get more than one for one in removal and you should be good to go. Another important thing to do is say they are attacking for 5 and you have the life and fog in hand, just announce you’ll take the 5 more often than not they will spend mana to bloodrush, and that’s when you’ll want to fog. Domri and Garruk are problems and so is Xenagos. So it’s important to remove those if you can.

Sideboard

(If they have more than 2 mutavaults bring in turn//burn and if you suspect burning earth wear//tear as well.)

(If you’re bringing in other spells take out druid’s deliverance or defend the hearth equal to what you bring in.)

In the SB games if you get a perimeter down early just focus on that, you don’t need to worry about the PW as much as you may think. The SB games can get tough but keep riot control for if they overload the board before a wrath and to combat flesh // Blood. Be wary of Ruric Thar and if you suspect Burning Earth once they get to 4 mana make sure to keep a white mana up to float if need be. Start fogging at around 12 life in case they play Ruric Thar. If they do I hope you made sure to leave a spot removal spell out to deal with him or it’s gg.

 

Even

Mono Black Control – This match-up is good game one since so much of their deck is dead vs you. Keep them off devotion and it’s actually an easy game. This match-up is annoying because of the discard but it is still in your favor game 1. Start fogging around 10-8 life you don’t want to get in range of a Gray Merchant draining you. Nightveil Specter can be worrisome but if he does steal a gate just search up that gate with maze to make sure they can’t just beat you from that. Keeping 5+ land hands has been successful for me in the past maybe I got lucky but it seems to be pretty good vs them.

 

Sideboard

 

In the SB games it’s very important to keep them off devotion just like game one. Always play a red source turn 1 and if you can shock to play a crackling perimeter on turn 2 if you can. If you land this early it’s pretty much good game. Game two is difficult since they bring in more discard and creatures but as long as you keep them off a high devotion it’s not terribly difficult.

 

Mono-Blue Devotion

This is such a good game 1 people may not realize. They don’t run many if any counterspells so your fogs should always get you there. Start fogging when their attacks will kill you. Nightveil Spectre can be worrisome but if he does steal a gate just search up that gate with maze to make sure they can’t just beat you from that.

Sideboard

 

The SB games are much harder than in the mono-black control match-up. They have counterspells and of course Mutavault is annoying. Turn//Burn can be used to make master nothing to wipe the tokens in response to an attack which acts as a mini fog, so does turning and burning a Thassa, God of the Sea or turning a Thassa and burning another creature. If you see Jace, Memory Adept in game 2 then you need to bring in the Bows for game 3. Fight to resolve it since they don’t have a way to remove it, yes they can bounce it but keep fighting to keep it in play. Still go with the Maze’s End win condition. I don’t know if it’s better to bring in crackling perimeter since you need a lot of fogs vs this deck. But feel free to experiment.

 

Difficult

R/W Variants – If it is the devotion builds without Assemble the Legion main-deck it isn’t too tough really since they don’t have much reach. If they do this match-up can be quite difficult. Counting life and turns ahead is very important, starting the fogs is determined by how the game is playing out and there’s not really a set time to start doing so. Some games turn out that not fogging early makes you lose, conversely some games fogging early makes you lose. It all comes down to game state and how the opponent is playing.

Sideboard

 

The SB games play out much the same: take out Assemble the Legion before it gets out of hand. Don’t play into a Boros Charm since you pretty much lose if you do.

 

Unwinnable

Mono-Red / R/W Burn – This is the one match-up you never want to see. Your fogs here are useless for the most part except riot control but even still they run Skullcrack. Hope to draw a bow and good luck.

Sideboard:

 

After SB this match-up is still really difficult. D-sphere away problem creatures like Chandra’s Phoenix and burn creatures down. Wrath for value and slam down a Perimeter early if you can. Maze’s end is too slow a vast majority of the time and racing with Perimeter is the only way you can really do it. If you can get a Bow going and active you should be able to pull out the win. I have beaten this deck exactly once in about 15 matches. They just non interact vs us better than we non interact.

 

Playing the Deck

Simic-Guildgate

The deck can be somewhat difficult to play when first learning. You generally want to keep a hand with some fogs and gates to play them. Maze’s end need to come down turn 4 if possible or as soon as you can afterwards. Once you get the Maze out you never want to play another gate from you hand again unless absolutely necessary, and if you do don’t play a gate that’s not already in play, it’s better to play a dual land instead since saving a gate you don’t have in play wins you the game 1 turn sooner than normal or 2 turns sooner if you have 2 Maze’s Ends in play. Don’t forget to play the Maze as your land for the turn after you activate it. It takes some math to calculate life totals for later turns, and you get into situations where you want to activate the maze on turn 4 but will be completely tapped out and not able to fog. Before these turns start you need to count ahead how much damage you can afford to take and if you need to fog on turn 3. Very important is to ALWAYS play your more expensive fogs first. Once you get maze’s end out and active you’ll go from all lands tapped, to one land untapped (mana for fog), then two lands untapped, etc. Be sure to always leave up green mana and both green and blue once you can. Save your Verdicts if they have a lot of creatures in play ONLY if you have a riot control. That way you can gain some decent life then wrath. If your opponents get into a top deck mode vs you it’s pretty difficult for you to lose. Once you learn the deck it’s not terribly tough, you just  have to be thinking ahead more so than most decks I’ve played before.

 

The GP

So how did I do at the GP? Let’s break down my matches and go from there. Now I didn’t originally plan on doing this article so I took zero notes and sadly won’t have tons to go into detail with for my matches. If I can remember interesting bits I’ll include them.

Round 1 – Bye

After not sweating about my byes anymore I calmed down sold some stuff and got a Tabernacle, English for 288. I think it was Under priced personally for its condition, the wear wasn’t that bad, and I’m honestly the type of person who is planning to get cards for decks that I will play for a LONG time (not standard) I’m okay with buying w/e condition is cheapest since I don’t play on trading out my decks or getting out of magic again.

Round 2 – Bye

Drank water and went to bathroom.

Round 3 – R/W Aggro 2-0

Game 1

I sit down for my first match nervous and excited then see him play a turn 1 mountain and cry inside. Thankfully I’m able to get him to over extend since my deck looks like a pile of random crap and eviction him with no cards in his hand and 8 gates in play while at 12 life. He scoops

Game 2

Almost exact same as game 1. I win :D Fun fact I only played two merciless evictions in this round and zero verdicts and still got there.

Round 4 – W/U/G/R Control 2-0

Game 1

My opponents deck seem pretty slow and it takes him a while to understand what I’m playing. Once he does he Sylvan Primodial and hits my Rakdos Guildgate assuming I only play one since his last match opponent only played one. Ya he played maze’s end last round too. Well that’s EXACTLY why I don’t play one of gates. I go on to win pretty quickly

Game 2

I’m able to land a Crackling Perimeter early and when I do he informs me he sided out his Detention Spheres since the last Maze player had it game one and he didn’t see it in out game one. Good for me since I’m able to ride it to victory.

Round 5 – Mono-Black 2-0

Game 1

My opponent has no Idea what I’m playing while I just kill all of his stuff and keep him off devotion and race through the Maze quickly for the win.

Game 2

I don’t remember if it was the Maze or perimeter that I won with but I got there and that’s what matters.

Round 6 – Mono-Black 2-1

Game 1

My opponent sees what I’m playing and I can visibly tell he thinks it’s a joke. Well I win game 1 and he is quite upset, though he doesn’t say anything his body language does.

Game 2

He gets an incredibly fast Pack Rat start and I die on turn 4 or 5. I scooped before he killed me when he thought seized so I could conceal my Perimeter for game 3.

Game 3

Crackling Perimeter gets there.

Round 7 – Mono-Blue 1-2

Game 1

This was played at table one and was against Eugene Hwang. He was a very nice competitor and even kept shutting people down when people around were commenting about how stupid my deck was and what a joke it was by saying he’s 6-0 right? What about you? Good guy Eugene. I don’t let people get to me and inside I was laughing so much, Army gives you quite a tough skin and playing a lot of poker makes it so that you never tilt at magic.

Anyway I start fogging around 2 life and get there with the maze.

Game 2-3

His SB is full of counters and is therefore really good vs me. I get beat pretty handily in game 2 and game 3 goes down to the wire but I’m 2 gates short of getting there. Sadly first loss but such a nice guy.

Round 8 – Mono-Blue 2-0

Game 1

I win pretty easily and my opponent looks absolutely disgusted with me. He was pretty tilted to be playing against me. Brian David Marshall watched this match and seemed really interested and he stayed for game 2.

Game 2

Just like the first it was a bit tougher but still got there. BDM seemed stunned and then I decided to announce to my opponent and BDM that I run 61 in the Main Deck and my opponent lost it he just laughed so much in frustration I think. BDM thought he was kinda fun that I needled my opponent a bit, and I wouldn’t have but only do if they are kind of rude to me.

Round 9 – Mono-Black 1-2 FEATURE MATCH!!!!!

You can watch this one youtube if you want but I’ll break down the part everyone is probably curious about.

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So game 2 I cast eviction and spout out enchantments, I have no idea why and I really did mean creatures but my brain said “NOPE MR. TORREZ TAKE THIS!!!!” Well I lost and I look back on it I would have lost even if I had said creatures. Joe drew the Gray Merchant that next turn and had 2 connections in play and I was at 9 life. True I wasn’t dead that turn but I only had 3 gates in play 2 duals and 1 maze, the life he would have gained I don’t think I would have been able to get back down fast enough.

I had fogs in hand so what if I just activate maze for another gate play the gate and hold fog mana up. Ya that seems like the correct play I agree but he still gains back 6 life and I fog so I don’t die and therefore don’t ping him. He goes back up to 15 life and perimeter still doesn’t get there quick enough I don’t think. Yes I at least give myself a shot with the end instead, but being at 3 life after the drain he assuredly draws another Merchant before I win to drain me.

Game 3

If I see a Maze early on I win that game for sure, but variance is part of magic and I didn’t so I finish day one at 7-2

Thoughts after Day 1:

I accomplished my day 1 goal of making day two, getting a live feature and a deck tech. I don’t know if they will publish the video deck tech but I can’t find it anyway maybe someone else can. Day 2 goal is top 8 but it’s going to be tough. I know if I play a U/W deck early I’ll make top 8 though. Another huge note is that I lose ZERO….. ZERO!!! Game 1’s which is HUGE, and furthers my belief that this decks game 1 win percentage against the field is fantastic (minus burn decks.)

 

Day 2

Round 10 – G/R Monsters 2-0

Game 1

I’m able to fog long enough and activate the Maze. I don’t remember my opponents name but he was from Canada and really cool about it all such a cool dude.

Game 2

Perimeter gets there.

Round 11 – Mono-Blue 0-2

Game 1

I almost get there due to a big misplay on my opponent, he could have attacked for lethal but didn’t and I was at 1 instead of dead. I needed to draw a fog, I have 12 left, didn’t bink it. FIRST GAME 1 LOSS.

Game 2

He used to play this deck at one point and sideboard perfectly vs me. I didn’t see a maze and lost.

Round 12 – Mono-Blue 2-0 Cory Huber

Game 1

This was vs Cory he was very cool about everything and seemed interested in the deck. I won game one fairly easily as all Mono-Blue matches are game 1

Game 2

I’m able to get there either the turn before I die or the next turn, all I remember was that it was close. After the match one of the Judges said he thought my deck was very interesting and if I had written any articles on it. I replied that I hadn’t and wasn’t sure if I was any good. It was at this point that Cory gave me his email and asked me to. Ecstatic I accepted and thanks to Cory I’m writing the article now.

[*** Editor's Note: I'm pretty sure I took you to 3 games John ;) ***]

Round 13 – Mono-Black 1-2

Game 1

The Maze opens up and I exit out for the win.

Game 2-3

He pack rats super quick and that’s all it takes.

In game 3 though I mulligan and kept a 3 land hand with 3 fogs but no green. I just felt that I can’t afford to mull to 5 vs this deck and needed to go to draw the green. Perhaps I was wrong but I’m good with my decision. Sadly I’m out of top 8 contention and now playing for points and money.

Round 14 – G/R Monsters 0-2

Game 1

I mull to 5 and do nothing but die really quick. My opponent has no idea what I’m playing though.

Game 2

My hand is really good with multiple verdicts and fogs. 3 lands and I never see a fourth. Well variance happens but man does it suck when it does.

Round 15 – Naya Aggro 0-2

Game 1

I get a bow going and fog a bunch but see a maze too late to fetch for a blue to verdict. I die with 2 Stormbreath Dragons in play and a ton of other creatures while he had no cards in hand.

Game 2

I mull to 6 and keep a hand similar to last rounds game two but again can’t seem to find a blue or maze and don’t get there.

Final Record 9-6

 

Afterthoughts

Thought Seize

Well the deck was an absolute blast to play and garnishing the attention was fun as well. I am still really bummed at not top 8ing or seeing any U/W matchups. I really feel that if I could have gotten paired up vs U/W in the first rounds of day 2 that I would have gotten there since it’s such an auto win and there was a TON of U/W at the top tables.

The GP was a lot of fun and anytime I get to travel with my wife to magic or poker is always fun. We are making plans and may go down to the GP in April and give the deck another shot.

Born of Gods Considerations and Deck Ideas

I’m currently testing out Quicken in the main deck and have moved the main deck bow to the SB and took out the 4th eviction from it. I also shaved a negate so I have two quickens in the main. The deck does need some more card draw and I don’t think any more than 2 urban evolutions is good since it costs so much. I like the quickens so far since they replace themselves and I can sneak a verdict or eviction on an opponents turn. Divination is also getting tested as well and I think I like them more instead of the quickens.

Kiora, the Crashing Wave – seems like it would naturally fit in the deck but I’m not sure. I don’t know what I would replace it with and only Fog actually saves her from attacks. I do think she is fantastic if I slam her after a verdict or eviction. I will be testing her to see how she works. I am not looking forward to obtaining foils of her though, ugh stupid card prices.

Hold at Bay – This card prevents any 7 for 1W. It may have a slot as fogs 17-20. But I’m not sure yet. It will get tested and could be fine as an early fog but we will see, so far I doubt it will make the cut.

Whelming Wave – THIS CARD I do think can make the cut. It doesn’t kill the creatures but putting 4+ cards back in your opponents hand seems pretty good to me, and the 2UU cost is reasonable.

Cards that I don’t feel should be played

I have been asked a lot about Saruli Gatekeepers and Gatecreepr Vine. I used to run them but I don’t anymore and for good reason.

The Gatekeepers makes your opponents removal valid, true some say well what about SB to help vs mono red. Even still that match up is so tough when you play it on turn 5 they will likely have the skullcrack and that just blows you out. I don’t like relegating SB slots to this card for a match up that we have a 5% chance of beating anyway. The play for mono red is to avoid it.

The vines though are a decent argument in that they block early and make sure you don’t get mana screwed. But to play them you have to shave off spot removal in the form of D-sphere or Evictions or removing Negates. And I feel like all those cards are better than the Vines. I don’t often get mana screwed since I run 28 lands. I feel like doing everything you can to make your game 1 as strong as possible is the key for this deck since games 2 and 3 are tough. I feel like Vine detracts from that.

Some decks like to play abrupt decay but I don’t, yes it doesn’t get countered and can hit creatures, but I think D-sphere does a better job vs creatures, and wear // tear can hit multiple cards for only 1 more mana. And using this decks mana as efficiently as possible is a must to make this deck work.

Feel free to ask me anymore about card options, I love talking about this deck with people because it is a blast to play. The most fun part of this deck is that you can evolve it to whatever your FNM meta is like since you play all the colors. If you want to play this at a bigger event I think building the deck to make it focus on winning game 1 as much as you can is very important. Also I probably wouldn’t play the deck at a GP unless I have byes to hopefully dodge more of the red decks.

 

Thanks to Cory Huber for talking me into this article. Brian David Marshall for the interest in the deck. Judge Nathan Wang for helping to confirm my byes, everyone who was supportive of myself and the deck. And most importantly thanks to my beautiful wife for being so supportive of letting me play magic and being willing to go and play. I’m sorry we couldn’t experience more of Vancouver together and I couldn’t do it without your support of all my card game habits.

 

I hope everyone finds their way out of their Maze.

 

John Torrez.

Gameplay footage of John Torrez – The End is now available here.