Scryings Double Elimination Top4

It's been a long time since we looked at elimination round decks around here. We even stopped updating the Decks to Beat section on the page over two years ago. There were some requests for less data on top decks by some players, and I was of course happy to oblige. (Should probably add the decks from the last Fishliver Oils and n00bcon(/m)s for posterity though. Will do that "soon".)

Today will be a small exception however, or perhaps a small "back to form". I played a 30-ish player online Scryings tournament over the course of the last two months, and it was sweet enough that I felt I had to share the lists from the last four people standing. The format was double elimination, so I got the chance to face all these decks myself over the course of the tournament.

And let me start by saying that I found Scryings really fun. I was excited about the format and had theory crafting going on about a year ago, but then kinda felt my enthusiasm knocked down a few pegs due to the pandemic and everything being cancelled. It wasn't the best of timings to explore a new old school environment to put it mildly. But returning to try out today was a blast, and I'm very much looking forward to the next chance to play.

That said, let's look at some decks.

Stefano Aimonetti's Primal Green, 4th place.

Stefano Aimonetti took the monogreen weenie we saw turn tables in 2020 and blinged it out with some new additions. A few things might be viewed as simple upgrades; e.g. River Boa is clearly a stronger card than Elvish Archers and Quirion Ranger is just a very good one-drop in a stompy deck. There are a few more things than meets the eye immediately though. Creeping Mold acts close to a second Chaos Orb in the deck, and the Uktabi Orangutans are extremely potent in the matchups the deck might struggle with; in particular artifact based combo and brown aggro. But the real new tech is Primal Order. Primal Order gives the deck range, and any control deck that can't answer an Order on the table in a turn or two will just lose. And best of luck trying to do a Time Vault combo through it.

I think I got a bit lucky to beat Stefano in the elimination rounds. I had very fast clocks against him; in one of our games I even had the turn one Mask + Dreadnought. Seeds of Innocence from the sideboard was of course a very potent card, but in the end I think that my fast draws combined with him having his artifact removal at CMC 3 (Orangutans and Seeds rather than e.g. Crumble) was his undoing. But I can certainly see why this was one of the last decks standing. And Primal Order is awesome.

Greg Kraigher's Vandal Goblins, 3rd place.

Now this is a sweet take on Sligh. Four-ofs of Goblin Vandal, Goblin Tinkerer and Dwarven Miner makes this an aggro deck that can happily take the control game when needed. And eight bolts, four Grenades and four Ball Lightnings offer range and a clock above most beatdown strategies. Greg told me that the Balduvian Hordes in the sideboard started off as a bit of joke - they were awesome dudes and immensely hyped in the mid 90s, so he wanted to play them - and he didn't expect much of them as competitive game play was concerned. It turned out to be a very potent joke though, as most midrange or aggro strategies simply could beat a quick non-artifact 5/5 on the board. Also, let's bask in the glory of having a control-capable sligh deck in the format, and one that plays three Nevinyrral's Disk in the sideboard none the less.

I faced off against Greg about a month before the penultimate round of the tournament. I'd managed to win that one (2-1), but kinda thought a lot of it was due to the surprise factor of MaskNought. Since then, he had gone 4-0 in matches with his Goblins, and I wasn't too cocky. Greg seemed to think the game was a done deal in my favor (a bit due to his lack of Shatters in the board), but I still didn't want to take any bets he offered. In our final match to face off against Brunazzo in the finals we split the first games 1-1, and in the last he had me almost completely locked down with a board of much mana and both Dwarven Miner and Goblin Tinkerer. My one out to seal the game came in Reconstruction, which after a lot of hand sculpting helped me somehow claim our final game.

Daniele Brunazzo's TwiddleVault, 2nd place.

Waiting in the finals we had Scryings master and Fishliver Oil EC Champion Daniele Brunazzo. Brunazzo came weilding one of the presumed boogie men of the format; Time Vault combo. TwiddleVault is a potent strategy in ordinary 93/94 (e.g. Danny Friedman won the Christmas Lockdown tournament with it a few months ago), and in Scryings the deck gets access to City of Solitude and in particular Emerald Charm. The Scryings meta can however be quite a bit harder for the deck to navigate even with those new toys, as there are far more people playing Tormod's Crypt in the sideboard here. Crypt is a hard card for the deck to beat, and basically requires that the Time Vault player gets a City of Solitude online before going off. That said, the deck is very, very powerful and Emerald Charm does a lot of heavy lifting. This deck, with this pilot, was what put me in the losers' bracket a few weeks earlier in the tournament.

Brunazzo went for a somewhat more comprehensible version of the deck than the builds that e.g. Danny and Svante Landgraf have tried out in the last year. His deck actually has a dedicated wincon in a maindeck Fireball, whereas the deck without Fireball wins either via the opponent dying of old age or by eventually casting a huge Braingeyser after generating mana by Mana Draining one's own spells to fuel it (usually after having created a deterministic Timetwister loop).

If you are interested in looking up our match, it is available here, with comments from Gordon and The Reindeer. It was a bit sad that Brunazzo was forced into such a rough mulligan in the last game, so the last one unfortunately turned out to be a bit of a non-game. On the flip side it was kinda sweet to deal the killing blow in a tournament with Forsaken Wastes.

Magnus de Laval's MaskNought.

So I somehow actually managed to win. We've already talked quite a bit about this deck less than a month ago, so I wont dig down into details again. But to summarize I think the deck is good. Not just good in the way I go on about Jokulhaups + Orcish Squatters being good, but probably actually good. The core quality is that it can operate on two very different tempos - either as a combo beatdown that must be answered quickly or as a control deck that thrives in the late game - and it can do both fairly well. That makes the deck very hard to play against, in particular in this infancy of the format where people are not really used to facing it. I don't think it's too good though, it e.g. can't beat a Moat save for the single Chaos Orb, and cards like Crumble put some serious sand in its gears. But I think I'd argue that this is tier 1.5, even when people know a bit more on how to beat it.


In older days, back when this blag had somewhat predictable weekly updates, we often posted links to good MtgUnderground content down here. We don't do it that often anymore, but I still feel that I have to give a special shout-out to a recent All Tings Considered episode where Mano sat down with Shaman Ben. The episode didn't go particularly deep on things like deck techs or cards, but rather went deep on culture. And our culture is by far the most important we have here. In these days of distancing and remote gatherings, it can be easy to forget sometimes. I warmly recommend giving that one a listen if you haven't already.

Another very cool thing from the last few weeks is new information regarding the print runs for Limited Edition. Peter Adkison (the founder of WotC) did some digging on his own and then shared the actual numbers for Alpha and Beta. I've updated the previous post on print runs with a disclaimer and the actual numbers as presented by him. For what it's worth, we were very close, but had our downfall in using bad information that stated cards were split 50/50 between boosters and starters when it in fact was closer to 40/60 ;)


  1. Alex: Beautiful decks! Danny Friedman didn't play Twiddlevault in the recent Winter Derby by the way. He played The Deck, almost without wincons, so I guess it is similar to Twiddlevault in that regard. ;-) Maybe you mean the Pestilence Open?

    1. Oh, of course you are right Alex! Thanks for the correction :) The vault deck and tournament I had in mind for Danny was in fact the Christmas Lockdown ( And that one he actually won, so I somehow managed to mix up both which tournament it was and his final record... I corrected the text now, and I of course solely blame the error on Danny for having too many good results with too many different decks for me to keep easy mental track of them ;)

  2. Well done, my friend.

    Also nice to see my favorite deck from my teen years (stompy) perform so well.

    And the monored beatdown/hatebear deck is also very interesting.

    But Skull of Orm is nowhere to be seen. Hope I will be the first one to break it.

    1. Thanks a lot Jirka :) And best of luck breaking skull of orm, would love to see that card in new lists!


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