Major Ao and Playing Every Color

corey gIt's been quite a few weeks since myself and others have submitted any Kaijudo content for ARG - but all of that is about to change! Whether you know it or not, Season 3 is underway for Kaijudo competitive play, as last weekend at Kirwan's Game Store in Catskill, NY, a 20 person tournament for $1,000 in prizes was held, and we're going to talk about the deck that took 3 of the top 8 spots - 5 Color Control.
The first thing I remember after coming back from the Winter Kaijudo Championships was thinking about how much work Major Ao was putting in during the games I watched. His ability to come down on turn 5 (or sooner) and attack 2 tapped creatures and killing them both is quite the way to alleviate pressure from aggressive decks. I'm pretty sure everyone has noticed the amount of people looking for Major Aos and almost every store is sold out of them, so I don't think I need to go into too much detail about how good the card is right now.
When preparing for the 1k, I noticed that the previous tournament had 4 LWN tempo decks in the top 4. With Carl Miciotto's success with the deck, along with a few Draw For Turn players favoring the strategy, that is what I decided on trying to attack with the deck I was going to play. I had been play testing pretty much every possible strategy to learn the ins and outs of it, but always ended up falling back to the Haven control decks, due to how powerful they felt. Here's the list I played to a top 4 finish.

250px-Cassiopeia_Starborn_(10INV)2 Stormspark Blast
1 Orion, the Radiant Fury
3 Andromeda of the Citadel
2 Eternal Haven
1 Cassiopeia Starborn
2 Logos Scan
3 Crystal Memory
1 King Tritonus
1 Mesmerize
1 Death Smoke
3 Terror Pit
1 Skull Shatter
1 Jump Jets
1 Drill Storm
1 Tornado Flame
1 General Skycrusher
1 Infernus the Awakened
3 Sprout
3 Reap and Sow
1 Manastorm
2 Tendril Grasp
3 Root Trap
3 Aqua Strider
3 Fullmetal Lemon
2 Piercing Judgment
3 Major Ao
1 Grip Despair
2 Reverberate
1 Kivu Ingenious Shaman
1 Squillace Scourge

My wins in swiss were against 2 LWN Tempo decks, 1 piloted by DFT's Mark Maltais, and the other against Tom Rogers playing LWDF Dragons. In round 4 I lost in the 5 color mirror to the eventual winner, Tyler Hine, and then ID'd with Mike Espinoza playing Blurple. I ended up playing Mike again in top 8 in 3 insane games, including twice me playing a Drill Storm that wiped his board with me have 0 shields, then lost again to Tyler Hine in top 4.
I wanted this article to be less about the tournament itself, and instead understanding how a deck like the 5 color "pile" (or as I named it, "Milhouse Manastorm") can exist in Kaijudo.
Having access to all 5 civilizations in a control deck is both a blessing and a curse. The deck sort of goes against all real deck building principles, as my deck was 54 cards and the Hines brothers played 53. The card that enables this sort of deck to exist is Crystal Memory. You'll notice there are a very high number of singleton cards I played in my deck, and I saw those 1-ofs quite often on the day, mostly because I searched for them when I needed to. Having the ability to set up your next turn (or even the current turn if you have enough mana) with the best possible card in your entire deck for that scenario is tremendous. Very situational 1-ofs like Drill Storm, Death Smoke, Skull Shatter and the like made me feel much more comfortable in a few situations I felt the deck was weak to. Did I mention that looking through your deck to see what the contents of your shields are is also an unbelievable advantage?
Infernus_the_AwakenedHaving access to literally every single card in the game is another strength of the deck. You can finely tune the deck to your liking depending on what decks you are expecting to play. The deck is also pretty difficult to play against as well for the same reason. Your opponent might have a general idea of what you are playing, but when I played cards like Orion, Radiant Fury, Jump Jets, and Infernus the Awakened, it wasn't exactly something my opponents were expecting.
Mana is another issue of the deck, and making sure you have the correct number of sources of each color can be tough. Looking back, I wish I played at least 1 more darkness card, as in a game against Tyler Hine, all but 1 of my Darkness cards were in my shields or had been discarded, leaving me with an uncastable Skull Shatter. I elected to play less Fire and Darkness cards because I felt that I didn't need to play those cards early in the game except for Major Ao. Most of them were shield blasts or very late game creatures and spells.
The big question at the moment is whether or not this deck has the staying power to become a major player this KMC season. In order for someone to do well with this deck, they have to have a very strong understanding of the metagame they are going to be playing against. I tuned my deck to be able to have a good tempo match up while also not giving up percentage points to Dragons, which is usually a good match up for Haven decks. However, some of the hedges I made ended up hurting me in the control mirrors. Correctly predicting the sort of decks that you will play against will pay off greatly with a deck like this, and will have you hating your decision to play it if you make the incorrect predictions.
I did want to bring some clarity as to what exactly happened in my round 3 match against Tom Rogers, as there has been some misinformation posted elsewhere that didn't exactly explain how the match played out. The rest of my matches excluding round 1 are on the archives of the Kirwan's twitch channel that you can watch here - :
Tom and I sat down to play off-camera as he elected to not sign the waiver to do so - understandable, there can be a lot of pressure that comes from playing in a feature match that you wouldn't otherwise get if this was a normal tournament. I win the die roll and it takes us almost 10 minutes to shuffle for game 1, because Tom screws up shuffling my deck like 3 times, including flipping over and seeing the Cassiopeia in my deck. I elect to not call a judge since I would rather just play the game and not have the match decided because of Tom seeing cards in my deck he shouldn't have.
250px-Mesmerize_(7CLA)The first play of the game is on my turn 3 where I Mesmerize Tom to see a Nix, a Lyra, a Bone Blades (or 2?) and another card he wasn't casting until turn a billion. I take his Nix, and his next few turns involve playing the Bone Blades in his mana. I Crystal Memory from hand at one point to find out that I have both a Terror Pit and a Piercing Judgment in 2 of my 5 remaining shields. Noticing that Tom is getting closer to being able to play a Squillace, I decide it is in my best interest to go on the offensive, since he can't kill me on the swingback. I play an Infernus the Awakened to kill his General Finbarr and play Jump Jets on it, then attack into a Stormspark Blast. He sees my Fast Attacking Infernus, and raises me one of his own, and swings for what would be game if I didn't have the shields I knew about, hitting the only shield I needed to win the game. He decides to break my last shield for fun, so I show him the Piercing Judgment is there too.
In game two, Tom plays a Lux on turn 2, and a Keeper of Laws I believe right on turn 4. On turn 5 he then plays a Lyra into my empty board, and I have 4 mana. He hits a Grip of Despair off my shields, and we decided to call the judge to figure out the order of the Laws trigger, which was incorrectly ruled, and me having no one to appeal the call to, so Tom gets to draw his card before he discards - no one's fault here. He then continues to attack with his Keeper of Laws, which then makes my next turn play of Major Ao pretty back breaking, as I attack both of his creatures and kill them.
The game progresses to a point where I know his last card is Squillace, but he does not have any darkness mana. My only creature on the field is an Andromeda, and the following turn he tanks for a bit before playing the Bone Blades he drew and the aforementioned Squillace. We both get into a top-deck war, which usually will end up favoring the deck playing Reverberate, as I end up drawing all of my Andromedas before Tom is able to try to go for a turn where he Piercings his own Squillace but does not have the mana to replay it in the same turn. Knowing he has it in hand, I decide to go in for his shields with my massive board that now includes an Eternal Haven, and I lock up the game.
Moving forward, I do expect this deck to be a decent part of the KMC meta game before 5 Mystics hits the weekend of March 15. Until then, I'm sure plenty of players will have more innovations for this strategy and others to be able to combat it. Make sure to check out Zach Hines's article about the deck as well, and CVH's article about how to possibly combat the pile both right here on Alterealitygames. Until next time guys - Peach!
Corey Gaudreau
Corey Gaudreau is a former Magic player turned Kaijudo player, and a member of Team PEACH. He competed in the first Winter Kaijudo Championships in 2013, and is known for his deckbuilding prowess.
Corey Gaudreau

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