RCQ Preparations [Standard - Mono Red Aggro]

RCQ Preparations [Standard - Mono Red Aggro]

RCQ Preparations
by Paolo Achacoso

              Standard season is upon us again! Seeing as how we couldn’t pass up an excuse to travel and sling some cards, we had to go back to the drawing board and decide on what to bring for Standard this time. This was going to be the first time in a while that we would be playing the format, the last time being during Top

            Deck’s Store Championships/Christmas Party last December. Actually, this was going to be the first tournament we participate in for the year, with everyone being busy with personal matters and such. With limited prep time, we decided to just do our own work and reconvene once the event is near.

              The usual suspects were around for this run: Craig Garces, Jerson Po, and myself. We also had Jose Clar with us, who we weren’t able to play with since last year (he and Craig went on a different RCQ in the interim, one that I wasn’t able to attend). We went on a 7-hour drive from CDO to Davao to attend the 2-day back-to-back event.


Current Standard

              Our last take on Standard was last December, where Craig and I played the finals on Esper Midrange and UW Soldiers, respectively. I was able to clinch the win after a hard fought match, and at the time I was certain that it was one of the top tier decks of the format. However during initial testing, I realized that the metagame already adapted and that my deck was no longer viable. Craig on the other hand was assured that he still had one of the best decks, granted that it had a hard matchup with Domain Ramp which is one of the more popular decks currently. I decided to try out the newest spicy deck in Standard: Boros Convoke.


This was the latest list at the time of testing, which underwent a few changes already in the current metagame. At the time we were going back and forth with specific card choices (Bunnicorns come to mind) and the overall strategy of the deck. Due to it being too popular (and too effective) though, more sideboard options have been explored (i.e. Path to Peril, Doorkeeper Thrull) and even UW Control has seen a resurgence.

Struggling to fix some of the bad matchups and with worsening results because of everyone adjusting to the deck, I decided to take a step back and reconsider my options. Studying the latest decks, I came across this deck by deleon91, which I tweaked a bit.


              This low to the ground list was designed to end games fast, and had a bunch of removal for all the threats/blockers the Midrange decks had. For Control and Ramp we had a set of Urabrask’s Forge to dodge all the board wipes. This list was also configured to take care of Convoke as well, with a set of End the Festivities in the sideboard.

              In the end I ended up going with this list, with Jerson following suit. Jose was also on RDW but with a different take, and Craig stuck with his Esper Midrange deck.


              The deck did extremely well on day 1, running into a rogue deck which the “fun police” usually pressures hard. 2 Convokes and a Ramp player after, I was 4-0 and drawing into top seed. Craig managed to get in the top 8 as well. Unfortunately we both lost out in the quarterfinals, with me flooding on my game 1 and blowing away my top seed advantage.

              Day 2 went terribly for me, losing out against Jerson on round 1 and finishing the day with an x-2 record, just outside the top 8. Craig had a better run this time, making it up to the semifinals before losing a close game against Domain Ramp. Overall the deck had a good winrate, but had the losses at the worst times.


Moving Forward

              On the long 7-hour drive going home we were able to have time to evaluate our performance and nitpick on what we could have done better. In summary:

  1. Not enough testing time/collaboration. Unlike our previous runs, we weren’t able to test as much as we wanted. A consequence of life getting in the way, but it can be improved on.
  2. Lack of focus. This applies to me mostly on day 2, the quarterfinals loss tilted me and I could have handled it better.
  3. Deck choices were fine, but lack of reps to fully master the deck. We weren’t able to come to a consensus deck this time also, which also complicates preparation.

That being said, not all tourney runs are successful (yes, top 8 is also fine I guess) and sometimes you just lose during the worst possible times.

What will we bring to the Thailand Open? We haven’t decided yet. There are some new techs that need testing before we submit the final list. Or hopefully we would just make the top 8 in Modern instead. See you in Bangkok!