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Highlander Championships Top 8 Deck Lists! 7th and 8th

Hey guys! Here are Nelson Salahub and Alistair Norman’s decks lists! While neither of them were fortunate enough to go incredibly deep in the tournament they both played some very interesting and interactive games and were only barely edged out!

Before I delve too deeply into the deck lists I first want to mention how the championships works. Throughout the year players who won the Monday night Highlander tournament were awarded a victory point. At the end of the year the top 8 players are all invited to compete in the year end championships. This year Josh topped the leaderboard with 10 victories and several players tied at the bottom of the leaderboard with just 2 victories. A play off was held to determine which of the 5 or so players who had 2 points would qualify for the championships. In the end Shane Harwood and Stefan Bard claimed the final two spots in the championships. In order to reward those players who did particularly well during the year a system was developed. The top 4 players would be given a choice with regards to who they played in the top 8. Here is how the system works. The top 8 is divided into two groups of 4 from both these groups 2 players advance to top 4. The group stage works similarly to some Starcraft leagues such as the GSL. In essence all the players have to do is win 2 matches before they lose 2 matches. So say in round 1 player A battles player B and player C fights Player D. Let’s assume the player A and D win; they now play each other and the winner of that game makes it out of the group. Players B and C also player after round 1, the loser is out of the tournament and the winner goes on to play the loser of the game between player A and D, the winner of that game then also makes it out of the group. After the group stage ends the first player to get out of group A (i.e. the one who won two games in a row) plays the second player to get out of group B. The winners of those semi finals then go on to play in the finals to determine the winner! All matches in the group stages are best of 3 but after the group stages they are a best of 5. In order to makes the groups for the top 8 we turned to the final rankings from the end of the year. Since Josh had the most victories at the end of the year he received a fairly powerful reward. Josh got to choose his first round opponent from one of the players in the bottom 4. This theoretically means that he could play a deck designed to do well against a particular person in the bottom 4 and win round 1 easily. But what if the person he choses plays something different? What if his deck isn’t good against the rest of the field?! This is what makes the format so interesting since although Josh gets an advantage it is by no means an advantage that is easily usable! The rest of the players in the top 4 also get a similar advantage. Spencer as the second ranked player also gets the ability to choose his round one opponent he simply just cannot pick the same person Josh does. Josh and his opponent and Spencer and his opponent make up the first two players for each of the groups. Now Nelson as the third ranked player has an interesting choice. He can either choose his opponent from one of the 2 remaining bottom 4 players OR he can choose which group he wants to be in! So if he thinks he has a good match up against Josh and his opponent he might be willing play to against either of the remaining bottom 4 players in order to be in Josh’s group. Whichever option Nelson does not chose is the choice that Nick, the fourth ranked player, gets to make. So if Nelson picked a group Nick gets to pick who he is playing if Nelson picked a player then Nick gets to decide which group he and his opponent go in! The entire system is very interesting and allows for a lot of thought a theorizing around what decks your potentially opponents might play or even still who your opponents might even be!

Without further delay now that I have introduced the format lets have a look at two of the decks played at this championship!

Nelson decided to bring his Blue Red Tempo burn deck to battle. This deck aims to keep the opponent off balance long enough to kill them with cheap and efficient threats and a variety of burn spells! This deck does reasonably well against other blue decks though it can sometimes be outclassed by some of the control decks. Similarly this deck has a very favourable match up against the more midrange decks as it can get time to set up and then keep those decks off balance. Nelson’s selection of this deck indicates one further thing. He was not planning on playing against many aggro decks since this deck can struggle against them.

Wooded foothills

Misty rainforest

Scalding tarn

Flooded strand

Polluted delta

Bloodstained mire

Arid Mesa

Tectonic edge

Rishadan Port

Shivan reef


Mishra’s factory

Grove of the burnwillows

Cascade bluffs

Temple of epiphany

Steam vents

Volcanic island

Sulfur falls

8 Island

9 Mountain

Mystical tutor

Ancestral recall

Stromkirk noble

Grim lavamancer

Monastery swiftspear

Forked bolt

Lightning bolt

Goblin guide

Mogg fanatic

Chain lightning

Delver of secrets

Mental misstep


Gitaxian probe




Chrome mox

Time walk

Price of progress


Memory lapse

Torch fiend

Kargan dragon lord

Lightning strike

Reckless reveler


Ember hauler

Flame rift

Counter spell


Arc trail

Punishing fire

Smash to smithereens

Eidolon of the great revel

Searing spear

Magma jet

Snapcaster mage

Mana drain

Cyclonic rift

Young pyromancer

Sulfuric vortex

Rift bolt


Deceiver exarch

Thada Adel, acquisitor

Chasm skulker

Chandra’s Phoenix

Goblin rabblemaster




True-name nemesis

Magus of the moon

Imperial recruiter

Treasure cruise

Zealous conscripts

Kiki-jiki mirror breaker

Force of will

Splinter twin

Koth of the hammer

Hidegetsu’s second rite

Real zarek

Chandra, the firebrand

Muddle the mixture

Alistair on the other hand decided to bring one the decks that he is very well known for playing however he made a slight alteration. Esper control is one of the most well established decks in the format and Alistair has certainly played a lot of it. Given the somewhat unusual nature of the championship format it payed to be somewhat surprising in your deck choice and Alistair achieved this by including a fairly potent but small reanimator package in his control deck. This combo plan allowed him to be more proactive in his games. This deck remains powerful in control mirrors and still possesses all of the tools to go extremely long and eventually win through inevitability. The reanimator package really helps some of the mid range match ups where control can sometimes struggle to deal with all of the mid range decks relevant threats. By having significant threats of its own the control deck can often look to simply end the game before the mid range deck can grind it down.

1x Mind Twist

1x Academy Rector

1x Ancestral Recall

1x Animate Dead

1x Arid Mesa

1x Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver

1x Azorius Signet

1x Baleful Strix

1x Batterskull

1x Bloodstained Mire

1x Brainstorm

1x Bribery

1x Celestial Colonnade

1x Coercive Portal

1x Compulsive Research

1x Condescend

1x Consecrated Sphinx

1x Council’s Judgment

1x Counterspell

1x Creeping Tar Pit

1x Crucible of Worlds

1x Cryptic Command

1x Damnation

1x Darkslick Shores

1x Day of Judgment

1x Dig Through Time

1x Dimir Signet

1x Dismiss

1x Drowned Catacomb

1x Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite

1x Elspeth, Knight Errant

1x Esper Charm

1x Fact or Fiction

1x Flooded Strand

1x Forbidden Alchemy

1x Future Sight

1x Gideon Jura

1x Gifts Ungiven

1x Glacial Fortress

1x Godless Shrine

1x Griselbrand

1x Hallowed Fountain

1x Hymn to Tourach

1x Inquisition of Kozilek

1x Iona, Shield of Emeria

6x Island

1x Isolated Chapel

1x Jace, the Mind Sculptor

1x Karakas

1x Mana Drain

1x Marsh Flats

1x Maze of Ith

1x Mind Stone

1x Misty Rainforest

1x Moat

1x Mystic Gate

1x Mystical Teachings

1x Path to Exile

1x Pithing Needle

2x Plains

1x Polluted Delta

1x River of Tears

1x Scalding Tarn

1x Scrubland

1x Seachrome Coast

1x Sensei’s Divining Top

1x Snapcaster Mage

1x Sol Ring

1x Sorin Markov

1x Sorin, Lord of Innistrad

1x Sunken Ruins

1x Supreme Verdict

1x Swamp

1x Swords to Plowshares

1x Talisman of Dominance

1x Talisman of Progress

1x Tasigur, the Golden Fang

1x Temple of Enlightenment

1x Terminus

1x Thirst for Knowledge

1x Thoughtseize

1x Trinket Mage

1x Tundra

1x Unburial Rites

1x Underground Sea

1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

1x Vedalken Shackles

1x Verdant Catacombs

1x Vindicate

1x Wall of Omens

1x Wasteland

1x Watery Grave

1x Windswept Heath

1x Wrath of God

Thanks for all the support! Also as a last note I’m posting the deck lists in the format which their owners submitted them to me so I don’t know why Alistairs has links to the cards but I cannot guarantee this for all future lists. Tune in tomorrow for decks from the 6th and 5th position!

-Liam Coughlan