3 Decks I Wish I Played at Pro Tour Ixalan

by Lee Shi Tian on 10 November 2017, Friday

Lee Shi Tian


3 Decks I Wish I Played at Pro Tour Ixalan

Pro Tour Ixalan is now in the books and it went down as one of the worst Pro Tours for me since last year. The metagame was relatively boring with over 40% of Energy-based decks in the field. During our testing, Temur Energy was still the king and we basically failed to find a reliable way to beat it.

If you can't beat them, join them.


That was the approach I used this Pro Tour, not a usual strategy for me. The last time I did that was Bant Company, but Temur Energy is not quite similar to Bant Company.

Temur Energy is a deck with lots of high quality cards and the energy which each card creates can be used towards another card. Bant Company was totally different, where each card chained into another card, such as Collected Company and Duskwatch Recruiter. The only "card drawing" spell in Temur Energy was Rogue Refiner and there are many games where I simply flooded out and lost.


The Scarab God Swamp

While I can see having mana sink like The Scarab God being good, I really don't like the addition of black. It is not like there is no cost for doing that. Maybe you can get away in the field of midrange but not with Ramunap Red in the metagame. We anticipated red decks to be prevalent and decided to stay stable with Temur.


Vizier of Many Faces

However, that was a poor decision on hindsight because Temur was the target of Pro Tour Ixalan, not Ramunap Red. Our tech in the mirror was to maximise Vizier of Many Faces.

We think it is the only card which is able to match up with whatever opponent's sideboard plan, was, regardless of whether they brought in The Scarab GodGlorybringer or counterspells. However, there was still no way to fix the "no card draw" problem. I guess this is simply the "midrange life" where any hand can end up in mana flood or mana screw.

I ended up 5-5 in the Constructed portion and finished 9-7 at the Pro Tour to get one extra pro point. 

I was certainly not happy with my deck choice and today I would like to talk about the deck I would play if I could go back in time and choose again! Let's start with the most boring option first.




#1: Ramunap Red


Ramunap Ruins Hazoret the Fervent


Ramunap Red had a generally poor matchup against Temur during Worlds Championship. However, with metagame started to be dominated by midrange strategy. This caused the energy decks to add extra colors or become greedier. They tend to focus on beating mirror matches but sacrificed consistency in the red matchups.

The red matchup is around 60-40 before, it is now much closer to 50-50.

Red is an all-in strategy that it is the best when it is the worst. At this Pro Tour, I believe Red was the overall best-performing deck. 


Invigorated Rampage

The new tech developed by Tomoharu Saito during our testing is Invigorated Rampage to get around a huge blocker such as Longtusk Cub and Bristling Hydra or to trample past Thopter tokens made by Whirler Virtuoso.

I believe Yam Wing Chun has the details covered in his Pro Tour Report. With this new tech against Temur and other energy variants, I think the matchup became much closer to 50-50. Beyond that, decks try to beat Temur by going over the top is extremely weak to red.

It is now clear to me that red was the best deck choice for the tournament.

#2: White-Blue God-Pharaoh's Gift


Gate to the Afterlife God-Pharaoh's Gift



The second deck of my choice would be this spell-based God-Pharaoh's Gift deck played by Pascal Maynard to the finals. It does not try to do anything fancy but instead keeps consistent by having lots of cheap cantrips and looting effects.

It is easier to cheat God-Pharaoh's Gift into play via Refurbish in this build and you can even use Search for Azcanta to "ramp" into seven mana to cast it.


Chart a Course Strategic Planning Opt

The massive amount of card drawing is definitely something I enjoy playing with. In our in-house league, White-Blue God-Pharaoh's Gift actually showed a very promising result.

However, when we started testing against Ramunap Red, the deck just felt like it was doing nothing while our opponents was beating us down. We discarded the deck after that.

Looking back, it could be the biggest mistake for us to assume that if we were paired against Ramunap Red it was like the end of the world. We expected red decks to occupy 15% of the metagame, which is acceptable as long as we prepared our sideboards properly.


Authority of the Consuls Sunscourge Champion

Cards Authority of the Consuls or even Sunscourge Champion could have covered that angle and turned it into a "not too bad" matchup.

This version is very good at overloading artifact removal, meaning that your opponent will never have enough Abrades. It can also play a midrange game with Search for Azcanta and any unchecked God-Pharaoh's Gift can easily take over the game in two turns.

The position of this deck was great at Pro Tour Ixalan and it was close to the "speed of the tournament". Seeing how many midrange decks there were, White-Blue God-Pharaoh's Gift was certainly great.

#3: White-Blue Cycling


Drake Haven Abandoned Sarcophagus


I have heard about Eliott Boussaud's reputation as a deck brewer. This White-Blue Cycling deck certainly showcased his skills and he brought this deck to a 8-2 finish at Pro Tour Ixalan.

Cycling is a great mechanic. One of the problems with this Standard format is having different types of powerful threats with not enough generic answers. Cycling helps dig for the solutions you need. The deck is quite similar to Approach of the Second Sun decks because it plays the Settle the Wreckage and Fumigate package to fight aggression. 


Settle the Wreckage Fumigate

Unlike Approach the Second Sun, it does not rely on resolving a 7-mana sorcery spell. Instead, it uses Drake Haven and Abandoned Sarcophagus which is easier to resolve against Negate.

The massive amount of cycling also helps in fighting back against decks with Duress and this is a good reason to play White-Blue Cycling over White-Blue Approach.

Once again, based on the sideboard package, we can see the red matchup being terrible. This is a deck which tries to survive and its success depends on the speed of the field. If red makes a big comeback in the next couple weeks, these "go over the top decks" will become a glass cannon.





There are several Grand Prix coming up in the next few months and I believe the metagame will shift. Make sure you can anticipate the speed of the format and select the appropriate deck to position yourself better.

Grand Prix Shanghai takes place this weekend but I will be attending the wedding of a university classmate who is a close friend of mine. I had really wanted to attend but as I grow older I also feel that making some room for my personal life will make me a more balanced person.

I wish you good luck if you are attending any Grand Prix this week and of course, I hope you select a great deck! See you next week!


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