Jun 14, 20182082 views

RB Chainwhirler for the Non-Aggressive Player

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This is Goblin Chainwhirler's world and we're just living in it.
I played a RB Chainwhirler deck at Pro Tour Dominaria, also known as Pro Tour If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em. While things didn't go particularly well for me, I was happy with the deck and think I made a lot of good deckbuilding decisions.
Going into the tournament, it was pretty clear that UW Control and RB Aggro/Midrange were the best decks. It seemed really difficult to attack one without giving up significant ground against the other, with Mono Red standing out as maybe the sole candidate that could hold its own against both.
These predictions more or less played out to expectation. While it's hard to parse some of the archetype names from coverage, the Pro Tour metagame was something close to the following:
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People often overstate metagame percentages, and it can be dangerous to talk about only trying to beat one or two decks. Mono Red, for example, actually improves in a three deck metagame where the other decks are cannibalizing themselves to beat each other and win mirrors. For a semi-open metagame like the Pro Tour, however, I wanted a strategy that was well-positioned against a group of players making deck decisions with imperfect metagame information. Rekindling Phoenix and Goblin Chainwhirler can singlehandedly win matchups, and black cards like Duress and Doomfall give you the tools to fight Control and Combo without morphing into a bad aggro deck. I built my RB deck with this in mind, eschewing cards like Bomat Courier that are weak against green creature decks. Although I didn't have a great result at the Pro Tour, I do think my deck was well-constructed for that tournament and a solid foundation for how to approach the format going forward.

RB Midrange by Jon Stern
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https://www.mtggoldfish.com/deck/1147803#online
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The biggest difference between my deck and some of the more popular versions is that I replaced aggressive cards like Bomat Courier and Heart of Kiran with maindeck Doomfalls and additional late-game threats. Even if Bomat Courier is a useful tool against Control, it's such a terrible draw against the rest of the field that I was willing to gamble on a different game plan. While playing Bomat doesn’t make you an underdog against green decks, I was more interesting in maximizing win percentages rather than just making sure to stay above 50%. Heart of Kiran is better against the field, but quite bad against Mono Red. I also disliked the play pattern of resolving it on turn two against Control, getting my next two plays countered, and then seeing them untap on turn four or five at 20 life. Doomfall, on the other hand, helps you play around Settle the Wreckage while forcing them to consistently find the right answer for each of your threats. It's also much better in the mirror and against cards like The Scarab God, Rhonas the Indomitable, and even Refurbish if UW Gift pops back up in the metagame. Playing a version with less one drops also makes it possible to play more dual lands that come into play tapped, and more black sources overall.

vs RB Aggro/Midrange
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Although the changes I made to the deck generally improve the matchup, you're still playing a mirror with most of the same cards. Personally, I dislike Scrapheap Scrounger against Chainwhirler decks, but some opponents will leave these in, especially if they also want Heart of Kiran. That’s not a very good plan against Rekindling Phoenix either, but you are somewhat vulnerable if you follow my advice and board out all your Abrades. If you think this is likely, you may want to hedge slightly be keeping in one or two on the draw, probably instead of Kari Zev. In most cases, though, both players will lean on their late-game haymakers and having more threats as well as the Contempts and extra Doomfalls should you in a good position to succeed.
Pre-sideboard: Slightly Favorable
Post-sideboard: Slightly Favorable
Overall: Favorable

vs UW Control
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With less aggressive options than other RB decks, you have to be prepared to fight more of an attrition battle. Kari Zev is one of your best weapons and the card you most want to resolve early, even if it means running your Scrapheap Scrounger into a potential Syncopate on turn three. It allows you to attack with two creatures if they tap out for Teferi with Seal Away backup, doesn't get blown out as badly if they play a mid-combat Gearhulk, and puts them in the awkward position of taking two damage or giving you an extra land when casting Settle.
Game 1 is a tough as you will lose most games where you draw too many dead removal spells, but your sideboard is great and rewards you for playing additional planeswalkers. I don't like Glorybringer because of how poorly it plays into Settle the Wreckage, and don't think you need to hedge with Disintegrations to play around the possibility of Lyra Dawnbringer. Doomfalls and Vraska's Contempts should be enough to keep them honest. If you aren't curving out from turns 1 to 4, don't be afraid to hold Duress for a turn or two as the information you get from seeing their hand as late as possible helps you to really punish them for having the wrong spell at the wrong time. With so many threats, it's ok to let them trade resources one for one. Denying them card advantage from cards like Glimmer of Genius is more important than trying to ride a single Chandra to victory.
While it may seem like I've made concessions in this matchup by cutting Bomats, I think my changes provide the tools for a more cohesive game plan that opponents won’t necessarily be prepared for. UW Control is better than most people seem to think right now, and I’m pretty happy with a version that wins about half the time without having to play cards that are poorly positioned against the field.
Pre-sideboard: Unfavorable
Post-sideboard: Slightly Favorable
Overall: Slightly Unfavorable

vs Mono Red
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This is a close matchup. Goblin Chainwhirler is your most important card in pre-sideboard games as they are very vulnerable to it, and it's the main way you avoid getting overrun. Post-sideboard games are a lot slower as they mitigate this vulnerability by morphing into more of a midrange deck. While Chandra is fairly bad in game 1, it’s a much better card in games 2 and 3 and as a way to answer Glorybringer in particular. You also get to replace useless Scroungers with more answers to Hazoret, and the fact that they are boarding out some number of small creatures improves your chances of landing a timely Doomfall. Although my version is a clunkier than typical builds, the aggressive cards I'm not playing don't do very much anyway, and would usually be boarded out.
Pre-sideboard: Slightly Unfavorable
Post-sideboard: Favorable
Overall: Slightly Favorable

vs Green Stompy
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Goblin Chainwhirler shuts down a huge chunk of their deck and Rekindling Phoenix is incredibly difficult for them to beat. When playing the matchup from the RB side, it feels like the only way to lose is by getting manascrewed or to an unanswered Ghalta, so hold your Disintegrations in hand for as long as possible. After sideboard, you have more ways to deal with Ghalta, and more removal in general which makes it difficult for them to even cast it.
Pre-sideboard: Favorable
Post-sideboard: Very Favorable
Overall: Very Favorable

vs BG Snake
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Although they don't have Ghalta to occasionally steal a game, BG Snake decks are more resilient than Stompy in the sense that more of their cards matter and they can win in different ways. Walking Ballista, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner, Ravenous Chupacabra, and Verdurous Gearhulk are all cards that can wage war on the card advantage front, even if Goblin Chainwhirler is still insanely good against them. They’re fighting an uphill battle though, as you are well-equipped to just kill everything they play while eventually winning with planeswalkers and flyers. That said, Shapers' Sanctuary is an incredible sideboard card against you and will be responsible for most of your losses.
Pre-sideboard: Favorable
Post-sideboard: Slightly Favorable
Overall: Favorable

vs UB Midrange
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UB Midrange is a good example of a deck that attacks Control while being willing to accept some liability against RB. They do have some very dangerous cards like The Scarab God, but their Vraska's Contempts are overtaxed and they can't avoid some amount of Chainwhirler vulnerability, and extra Doomfalls only make the matchup better. If you think they have multiple copies of Sorcerous Spyglass, you could keep in an Abrade or two since it's rarely a completely dead draw, though I’d probably leave them out in the dark.
Pre-sideboard: Favorable
Post-sideboard: Slightly Favorable
Overall: Favorable

As I'm proclaiming positive matchups against five of the six most played decks, you can see why I think this version of RB is so well-positioned right now, and why Goblin Chainwhirler decks are dominating tournaments around the world. In the 20 or so Standard leagues I played with various incarnations of the deck before the Pro Tour, I had a winning record against every major archetype except for Mono Black Control. While that's a deck that could resurface if RB continues to oppress, it does have some fundamental flaws to keep it in check. I'm not saying that UW Control or Mono Red are bad choices if they fit your play style. Both are certainly capable of good finishes and winning tournaments. If you’re unsure of what to play, however, RB is likely to maintain its position at the top of the metagame at least until the next update to the banned and restricted list. Not only does it get to play some incredibly powerful cards, but it's highly customizable and can be personalized and adapted to succeed in almost any metagame.
Best of luck with the deck and thanks for reading!

Previous Articles · Meet the Massdrop Teams: http://dro.ps/mtg-team-announce · *2nd* at Pro Tour Ixalan: http://dro.ps/ixalan · Unclaimed Creature Types: http://dro.ps/ari-creatures · Why I Never Drop From Tournaments: http://dro.ps/eric-nevergiveup · The Art of Sideboard Construction - Sultai Energy: http://dro.ps/jon-sideboard · A Commoner’s View on Pauper: http://dro.ps/mark-pauper · Blue Moon Beach Control: http://dro.ps/scott-bluemoon · Top 5 Modern Decks: http://dro.ps/pascal-modern · Storm in Vintage Cube: http://dro.ps/ben-storm · An Early Look at Rivals for Standard: http://dro.ps/shaun-rivals · A Standard Approach to Evaluating New Cards: http://dro.ps/rob-newcards · Drafting Rivals of Ixalan: http://dro.ps/tim-ixalan · Team Sealed Secrets: http://dro.ps/eric-secrets · Steal My Standard Ideas: http://dro.ps/tommy-secrets · Vexing Devil. Any Questions?: http://dro.ps/jon-devil · Team Massdrop Rivals of Ixalan Limited Primer: http://dro.ps/ari-primer · Gestation of RG Eldrazi: http://dro.ps/ben-gestation · Top Tim Tournament Training Tips: http://dro.ps/tim-tips · What Makes Someone Bogle?: http://dro.ps/tommy-bogle · A Pauper Adventure: http://dro.ps/pascal-pauper · Blue Moon at GP Phoenix: http://dro.ps/rob-bluemoon · Brawling into Dominaria: http://dro.ps/scott-brawling · Looking at The Current Lands(cape) of Legacy http://dro.ps/jarvis-land · Deconstructing Dominaria Limited: http://dro.ps/jon-dominaria · Diving into Dominaria Standard: http://dro.ps/mark-dominaria · What are your.. drives?: http://dro.ps/tommy-drives · Top 10 Cards for Dominaria Modern: http://dro.ps/rob-dominaria · Brewing Standard with Dominaria: http://dro.ps/pascal-dominaria · Dominaria Team Sealed: A Case Study: http://dro.ps/tim-dominaria · Battlebonding in Vintage and Legacy: http://dro.ps/jarvis-battlebond · Decks I Almost Played at PT Dominaria: http://dro.ps/ben-dominaria
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Arthur Reyes, MarkJacobson, and 1 other
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Are there sideboard plans against decks like god pharaoh's gift or UW flash/historic?
NumbGrip
vs UW Gift, I would do something like this: +1 doomfall, +4 duress, +1 chandra, +1 glorybringer, +1 magma spray, +2 vraska's contempt -3 soul-scar, -4 scrapheap, -2 disintegration, -1 eldest reborn
I'd probably keep the same default UW Control sideboard plan vs other versions of UW. I like Glorybringer more vs Benalia decks if they don't have Settle the Wreckage, but I think most still will. I would rely on Contempt/Doomfall to deal with Lyra rather than risk a potentially dead card like Unlicensed Disintegration.