By Michiel Van den Bussche

If you live in the greater Sint-Niklaas area and you have an interest in boardgames, wargames, cardgames, rpgs, etc. Chances are great you will have visited the HG Gaming Club. It is a non-profit organization that hosts a gaming night every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday you tend to find Magic players testing their Gentry and Modern brews, on Fridays they host FNM’s and every set they have a Sunday pre-release.

 The idea of a championship tournament has existed for quite some time. The goal was to hold a one day multi format event, were we would crown a champion. The event was to be open to all players, but the highest finishing member of the HQ Gaming Club would be crowned champion for one year, so next year a new contender can take the crown. There was no way to earn a bye, and the two most popular formats in the club are Draft and Gentry hence why you, a Gentry aficionado, are reading this article.

The structure of the event was 3 rounds of drafts, followed by 3 rounds of Gentry. The top 4 contenders played each other in a best of five single elimination match. I will focus on these 4 decks in this article. Use it as an inspiration or preparation for the Gentry open.

4th Place – Sean Van Osselaer – Esper Blink

Lands (23)
Evolving Wilds
Island
Swamp
Plains

Creatures (20)
Thraben Inspector
Cloudblazer
Deadeye Harpooner
Vengeful Rebel
Linvala, the Preserver
Torrential Gearhulk
Noxious Gearhulk
Cataclysmic Gearhulk

Instants (13)
Essence Flux
Acrobatic Maneuver
Countervailing Winds
Displace

Artifacts (4)
Renegade Map
Sideboard (15)
Negate
Striped Riverwinder
Fortified Rampart
Decommission
Angelic Purge
Countervailing Winds

The key strategy in this deck is reusing and abusing enter the battlefield triggers. Prior to the Reflector Mage ban, this deck was one of the pillars of Gentry, but Sean has been proving for quite some time that it is still a strong contender.

The mana is quite difficult because you are playing 3 colors. A combination of Evolving Wilds and Renegade Map make this a trivial thing however. If you analyse the deck a bit more closely, you will notice a strong presence of white and blue, were the black cards are fewer in numbers.

One of the strengths of this deck it that it quite effective blanks opposing removal spells. If you respond to a removal spell with a blink spell, like Displace, you go up in card advantage while maintaining your board. This also means you will have access to a lot of resources, so you rarely run out of cards in the late game.

Every deck has its weaknesses of course, if you are behind and have to play your blink spells in order to gain advantage, a well-timed removal spell can cause a blow-out. The majority of toughness 2 creatures tend to die easily to one of the 3 Shock (Shock, Galvanic Bombardment, and Magma Spray) variants Gentry has at the moment.

In the hands of a skilled player, this deck means business and I expect it to be present in some shape or form at the Gentry Open. You also get to play 3 Gearhulks, which is nice! Post rotation it seems to lose some key cards, so its future is uncertain.

3d place – Philip Nachtegael – R/G Ramp

Lands (20)
10 Forest
Mountain
Evolving Wilds

Creatures (32)
Verdurous Gearhulk
Vizier of the Menagerie
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Rhonas the Indomitable
Sifter Wurm
Arborback Stomper
Crocodile of the Crossing
Outland Boar
Scaled Behemoth
Ulvenwald Captive
Stensia Innkeeper
Naga Vitalist
Druid of the Cowl

Artifacts (2)
Rhonas’s Monument

Enchantments (3)
Cartouche of Strength

Instants (3)
Uncaged Fury
Sideboard 15 (15)
Mountain
Appetite for the Unnatural
Magma Spray
Shock
Puncturing Blow

A builder of whacky decks at heart, Philip dominated the swiss portion of the tournament to lock first seed. His Ramp deck has a lot of amazing tools in control match-ups. Aggressive strategies tend to be a difficult match-up but you can clearly see Philip has a plan to beat them after board, sporting a large suit of removal capable of dispatching little critters.

Some of these cards are quite common in Gentry, but others have not had their moment in the spotlight. The deck has shown tremendous potential, especially in the hands of a player likes Philip, who is quick at analyzing a board state and rarely makes mistakes.

With 12 mana creatures and 20 lands, more than half of the deck is essentially mana. This makes the deck quite consistent and opens up cool plays. Having been on the receiving end of a turn 3 Stensia Innkeeper, or having your creatures eaten by a Cartouche of Strength on a giant Hexproof creature, I can say this deck packs a lot of punch. Uncaged Fury means you can win with one big alpha strike.

2nd Place – Bram Van Den Abeele – R/G Energy

Lands (21)
Evolving Wilds
11 Forest
Mountain

Creatures (23)
Longtusk Cub
Voltaic Brawler
Thriving Grubs
Thriving Rhino
Servant of the Conduit
Riparian Tiger
Spontaneous Artist
Glorybringer
Tireless Tracker
Bristling Hydra

Sorceries (4)
Attune with Aether

Instants (12)
Blossoming Defense
Uncaged Fury
Rush of Adrenaline
Harnessed Lightning
Highspire Infusion

Planeswalkers (1)
Chandra, Torch of Defiance
Sideboard (13)
Negate
Natural State
Larger than Life
Magma Spray
Aetherstream leopard
Island
appetite for the unnatural

A completely different way to approach a R/G deck and a true staple of the format in the hands of someone with a lot of experience wielding the deck. The energy synergy provided by the Kaladesh block has pushed aggressive strategies up to Tier 1. A turn one Attune with Aether followed by an aggressive creature one can spend his energy counters one like Longtusk Cub or Voltaic Brawler can quickly shut down a game, especially when paired with some pump spells, like Blossoming Defense for ultimate protection or the Uncaged Fury to finish up a game that was about to turn.

I have very mixed feelings about this deck. On one hand, I welcome aggressive strategies in the Gentry format, and like the fact that a lot of new and beginning players can pick up a deck like this and smash face. On the other hand, this deck and the B/G variant with Winding Constrictor are pushing a lot of strategies out. Their level of speed and consistency has been the death of many homebrews. In the end, that is a sacrifice we make, there need to be simple to build, easy to play, but hard to master decks for a format to be healthy and to know what you need to prepare for.
Post rotation, the energy decks lose almost nothing, given the fact that Kaladesh block remains legal for another year. At more competitive events, I expect these decks in great numbers, given their consistency, and being able to punish slower decks and draws. If you are attending the Gentry Open, keep in mind that you are likely to face one of these decks!

1st place – Michiel Van den Bussche – U/R Spells

Lands (24)
desert of the mindful
evolving wilds
11 island
mountain

Creatures (2)
Torrential Gearhulk
The Locust God

Instants (31)
Galvanic Bombardment
Essence Scatter
Harnessed lightning
Abrade
Open Fire
Supreme Will
Countervailing winds
Tragic Lesson
Hieroglyphic Illumination
Glimmer of Genius

Artifacts (1)
Dynavolt Tower

Sorceries (2)
Hour of Devastation
Rise from the Tides
Sideboard 15 (15)
Dispel
Negate
Countervailing Winds
Flame Lash
Rise from the Tides
Open Fire
Blazing Volley
Dual Shot

If you know me even just a little you will probably have noticed my affinity for the Izzet guild. I love casting spells and favour this colour pair a ton, whether it’s draft, cube draft or Gentry. My first three decks I built when learning about the Gentry format were U/R Thopters, U/R Eldrazi and U/R Spells. The format was different back then, lots of sets have come and gone but my love for U/R remains strong.

The card that pushed my beloved strategy of playing a lot of spells and as few creatures as possible over the top was Supreme Will. As an old-school player, getting the chance to be casting Mana Leaks and Impulses again is awesome. Mana leak is bonkers early game, and the fact that, when the game goes longer, you can dig for the card you need with the other mode makes this deck great.

The strength and challenge of this deck lies in adapting to your opponents plan. It has a ton of ways to draw cards and cycle to find the pieces you are looking for to close out the game. If, like me, you enjoy casting lots of spells and your heart belongs to the Izzet guild, this might be the deck for you at the next Gentry open. After rotation this deck has an uncertain future, but I am sure to build another U/R deck when Ixalan comes out.

A big thank you for all the players that made this tournament great. We had a lovely atmosphere and I had the good fortune of playing mostly great matches against awesome opponents. I know league players love drafting and Gentry, so I hope a lot of you guys and girls will attend one of our next events!

Signing off,

Michiel

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