Tournament Report: Top 8 at GP Birmingham With Hardened Scales

Yesterday we took a look at the Top 8 decklists of GB Birmingham including a Hardened Scales build from Stan Splinter. Well who better to speak about it than the man himself? Today Stan stops in to give us a round-by-round report of his red-hot tournament run. He was also kind enough to list his board ins for every matchup faced. If you have any interest in the deck, you will not want to miss this.

Lands (20)
1x Blast Zone
4x Forest
4x Darksteel Citadel
1x Horizon Canopy
4x Inkmoth Nexus
1x Inventors’ Fair
3x Llanowar Reborn
1x Nurturing Peatland
1x Pendelhaven
Creatures (19)
4x Arcbound Ravager
4x Arcbound Worker
4x Hangarback Walker
3x Metallic Mimic
4x Walking Ballista
Spells (21)
4x Ancient Stirrings
4x Animation Module
4x Hardened Scales
4x Mox Opal
2x Throne of Geth
3x Welding Jar
Sideboard (15)
3x Damping Sphere
4x Dismember
3x Grafdigger’s Cage
1x Karn, Scion of Urza
4x Nature’s Claim
75 Cards Total

Coming off of a 5-0-1 finish at a Friday MCQ, I went into Saturday with two byes and some minor changes to the decklist; mainly dropping the mainboard Grafdigger’s Cage because there was less Hogaak than I expected. The choice to play four Module, three Mimic, and three Reborn turned out to be very good; Hogaak’s presence meant a low amount of combo decks and way more slots dedicated to graveyard hate than artifact hate. This meant the grindy Module+Mimic plan of making 2/2 servos with all my mana every turn worked very well against a lot of decks. I chose three Cage as my only graveyard hate because you can find it with Stirrings but it’s not even that good against Hogaak so i left it at 3. The other slots were, Claim and Dismember, were devoted to answering Stony Silence and Collector Ouphe.

Day 1

Rd 1: Bye (1-0)

Rd 2: Bye (2-0)

Rd 3: 2-1 over Four-Color Death’s Shadow (3-0)

Game 1
He didn’t have an early Fatal Push or Thoughtseize for my Hangarback Walker, and with the help of animation module I was able to run over him with servos without too much effort; just taking two hits from a Goyf.

Game 2
+4 Dismember +1 Karn
This time he had a Turn 1 Thoughtseize for my module, Ancient Grudges for my creatures, and a Goyf to represent a quick clock. He also Traversed for a Collector Ouphe which I Dismembered, but I was low enough that a Push combined with the Goyf took me to Game 3.

Game 3
I keep a land heavy hand with a Module and a Dismember. One of the lands was a Reborn which would allow me to start making servos on Turn 2, but he destroyed my Module early with a Grudge. Regardless, he had no threat for the first few turns, so when I got up to six lands and drew a Hangarback, which came in with six counters thanks to Scales and Reborn and he just couldn’t beat it.

Rd 4: 2-0 over UW miracles (4-0)

Game 1
He can’t get above four lands for a hard-cast Terminus, and after casting a miracle Entreat the Angels he just dies to Ravager+Ballista.

Game 2 
+3 Claim +1 Karn
I drop an early Scales+Module backed up my a Metallic Mimic naming servo, which starts making 3/3s very quickly. He is forced to tap out for a Cryptic Command to prevent eleven damage, and I land Karn in second main. He doesn’t find enough lands for his Terminus before losing to servos. 2-0

Rd 5: 2-0 over Urza Combo (5-0)

Game 1
I kill him quickly with Ravager on Turn 3 while he’s tapped out for a Foundry.

Game 2
+3 Claim +3 Dismember
Looking back it should have been  +4 Claim, +2 Dismember
He keeps a hand heavy on interaction and starts trading one-for-one. Eventually we are both hellbent with six lands and he plays a Pithing Needle naming Ballista. I Claim his Foundry so he couldn’t Inventor’s Fair for a Sword, he manages to find the combo later on but can only make three blockers for my four attackers and Ravager takes it.

Rd 6: 1-2 loss to Mono-Red Prowess (5-1)

Game 1
I use a Ballista+Scales to keep him off his first creature, then later kill with Ravager while he’s tapped out after discarding a Gut Shot.

Game 2
+4 Dismember (it hurts but is necessary)
I keep a slightly greedy hand with Opal being my second mana source and only green source backed with two Jars before dropping a Scales Turn 1. He casts Shenanigans on his second turn and dredges it every single turn while I can’t find a second land; locking me out entirely.

Game 3
We trade resources but Ballista matches up poorly against his two Soul-Scar Mages. Eventually we’re both running low but he has the Reveler to refill and with me being at five life there was no chance to survive.

Rd 7: 2-1 over Hogaak (6-1)

Game 1
I lose the die roll and he casts Hogaak on Turn 2. I can’t outrace it and die two turns later.

Game 2
+3 Cage
He boards in more than ten cards and only has spot removal while I have Hangarbacks so I slowly grind it out.

Game 3
He opens double Leyline with some more removal in hand but Module+Mimic gets there eventually.

Rd 8: 2-1 over Slivers (7-1)

Game 1
I lose the die roll and he has a very strong start with both haste and flying backed by three lords so I take 15 damage in the air on Turn 4.

Game 2
+4 Dismember
Turn 1 Scales into Turn 2 Ballista kills his mana sliver and prevents him from doing anything good all game. He later has to trade a Harmonic Sliver for a Ballista and loses soon after.

Game 3
I mull to five and he mulls to four which results in very slow hands from both of us. He eventually gets to the mana for Harmonic but doesn’t have enough slivers to really capitalize on it. I make servos using Hangarback+Module while he makes a 1/1 every turn with Sliver Hive to blow them up. I draw a Dismember while he is at one life to win before he can find his lifelink sliver.

Day 2

Rd 9: 2-1 over BG Rock (8-1)

Game 1
Kalitas could have been nasty for my Hangarbacks, but Module+Mimic made ten servos to win in a few turns.

Game 2
+4 Dismember +1 Karn
I take twelve damage going to one on an attack, hoping to come back with Ravager+Ballista next turn. It turns out he kept in Collective Brutality so I just die.

Game 3
He opens with no Thoughtseize so I get to land Mimic+Module, which eventually makes too many servos for him to win. Plague Engineer comes a few turns too late as he is already at five life.

Rd 10: 2-1 over Mono-Red Prison (9-1)
Game 1
He mulligans to five, but off the back of a Seasoned Pyro and a good draw he lands a Turn 3 Karn the Great Creator which we cannot beat.

Game 2
+4 Claim
I use Throne of Geth to proliferate his Chalice on one up to three three and kill him with a Ballista. He finds no Karn to save him.

Game 3
He keeps seven but puts two Leyline of Combustion into play leaving him low on gas. Later in the game he draws a third Leyline as I slowly kill him with Mimic+Module; again no Karn.

Round 11: 2-1 over Hogaak (10-1)

Game 1
Turn 2 Hogaak after losing the die roll is still too much to beat. I attempt an all-in but am stopped short by a Lightning Axe.

Game 2
+3 Cage
He mulligans and places two Leylines on board before putting a card away. We call a judge and i get to place one card from his hand on the bottom. This leaves him with only two lands, a Gravecrawler, and a Trophy in hand. He eventually just loses to servos with only Vengevines in hand.

Game 3
He keeps a hand with too much removal and too little action. I grind him out with Module+Hangarback somewhere around Turn 8.

Rd 12: 2-0 over Mardu Shadow (11-1)

Game 1
I knew he was on Shadow so I kept a sketchy hand with Blast zone. I then flooded out while ticking up a Hangarback. Eventually he runs two Shadows into my Blast Zone. I find a second Hangarback and block his attacking creatures with both, giving me lethal fliers.

Game 2
+4 Dismember +1 Karn
He keeps a hand with Leyline, Path, and no action before drawing nothing but land for five turns and losing to servos.

Rd 13: 2-0 over UW Control (12-1)

Game 1
We both mulligan to six and he gets stuck on two lands, losing to a combination of Ravager, Hangarback, and Module.

Game 2
+3 Claim +1 Karn
A Turn 2 Hangarback gets Detention Sphere‘d, but using my second copy of Claim I get it back in end step. He plays Lyra on Turn 5, but with Ravager out it couldn’t effectively block and was forced to attack. Two turns later he plays Teferi and I take that opportunity to blow up his Rest in Peace and win with Ravager.

Rd 14: 2-0 over Eldrazi Tron (13-1)

Game 1
I got downpaired and was forced to play but I win the die roll with an insane hand. Turn 1 Module+Scales, Turn 2 Ravager, Turn 3 Ballista. He scoops while I’ve only seen two tron lands and a Dismember. I place him on green Tron, which was stupid of me.

Game 2
+2 Claim +3 Sphere
He leads on tron land with Map and has to use a Spirit Guide to find an Eldrazi Temple on Turn 2. I play Sphere, which shuts off his planned Matter Reshaper so he can only play a 1/1 Ballista. A few turns later he loses to module tokens; not finding a Karn in either game.

Rd 15: ID with Thopter Sword (13-1-1)
We both drew for a better seed into Top 8.

Top 8

Quarterfinals: 1-2 loss to Hogaak

Game 1
A quick Ravager+Inkmoth hand kills him while he’s tapped out for an easy first game.

Game 2
+3 Cage
Turn 2 Hogaak on the play is once again too strong to beat.

Game 3
I could not find Cage and after a long game he eventually wins with enough removal backed by Carrion Feeder with Vengevine and Gravecrawler.

With Karn the Great Creator and Collector Ouphe arriving in recent months, many called for the death of dedicated artifact decks. Of course they could still go on but Stony Silence effects could now be commonplace. Stan’s performance with Hardened Scales proves that the strategy is far from dead. Congrats to him on the finish and a big thanks for stopping in to tell us about it. Do you believe that Scales has proven itself as the optimal robots build? Where does the archetype go from here? Please share your thoughts with us in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow with another article for you to enjoy. Until then my friends.

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