Interview with Andrew Shrout

I managed to catch up with the JOHNNYHOTSAUCE himself (a.k.a. Andrew Shrout) to pick his brain about the Prime Speaker Bant deck and about WWJHSD (what would JOHNNYHOTSAUCE do?) in terms of the current formats for the Magic Online Championship Series.

Prime Speaker Bant certainly performed very well this week. Andrew Shrout certainly has a history of doing well with G/W midrange-style decks.

Prime Speaker Zegana
Me: Where did the inspiration for Prime Speaker Bant come from?

Andrew: Gerard Fabiano and Tomoharu Saito collaborated on Twitter, resulting in this. I played it in one Friday Night Magic and won, but thought the deck was awkward.

  • I noticed I lost when I couldn’t cast my spells.
  • I won whenever I drew a big pile of cards.
  • Master Biomancer didn’t do anything.

Me: Why is it good?

Andrew: The deck is extremely straightforward: It just wants to play a midrange and grind you out of game (either with Prime Speaker Zegana or Gavony Township). When the engine comes online, it never runs out of big spells to play, which is what makes it good.

Me: What are some of the weaknesses?

Andrew: Sometimes, you lose to a good draw from an extremely aggressive deck (Naya Blitz, mono-red, and R/G aggro) involving multiple copies of Burning-Tree Emissary. Most of the, time it is fine—you play a bunch of creatures to brick-wall the opponent with (four Loxodon Smiter and four Restoration Angel). Individual cards that give the deck a lot of trouble are mostly cards that are hard to block (Falkenrath Aristocrat, Ghor-Clan Rampager, and Frontline Medic).

Me: I assume being unable to answer permanents made you add a Syncopate, Oblivion Ring, and Cyclonic Rift.

Andrew: You see so many cards in this deck that it is worth having access to powerful one-ofs (such as Cyclonic Rift).

Cyclonic Rift
Me: What were your matchups last weekend?

Andrew: I overall went 8–3. I defeated Junk Frites, The Aristocrats, Junk tokens, mono-red aggro, W/B Zombies, Jund midrange, Esper control, and one unknown. I lost to Esper, Naya Blitz, and Jund aggro.

Me: On the surface, the Junk Rites matchup doesn’t seem particularly easy. What happens there?

Andrew: You have more mana and more ways to draw cards, so it’s more likely you start looping Angel of Serenity versus that deck. Craterhoof Behemoth is potentially a problem. Garruk Relentless is also very good (to pick off mana creatures).

Me: How can you win the Prime Speaker mirror? It seems as though it can either be very degenerate or come down to decking?

Andrew: It is about Garruk advantage (so more Garruk Relentless is better here since it comes down faster and eats a mana guy), and Angel of Serenity almost always wins the game. I haven’t actually played a mirror, but Garruk Relentless came up in the theory-crafting. I’m also not opposed to Craterhoof Behemoth, but it seems that the deck has all the top-end it needs.

Me: What happens if you play against Electrickery or Bonfire of the Damned?

Andrew: If it’s anything like Reid’s Jund midrange list, which goes up to four copies of Bonfire of the Damned, I will sideboard out some number of mana guys in exchange for Cavern of Souls (going to twenty-five lands), and so Bonfire of the Damned isn’t nearly as good against me. If something like mono-red is boarding Electrickery, I still leave in all of my mana guys so that I can curve out, and I don’t mind if the opponent spends his turn three killing my guys instead of putting more guys on the board. He’s just Time Walking us both that way.

Me: What other Standard decks are you considering?

Andrew: I really like the G/W midrange core, so that style of deck (which covers Junk Frites, Naya with Assemble the Legion) is the frontrunner.

Me: the MOCS also has (an updated) Cube as a format. What do you think the most powerful archetypes are?

Andrew: It’s not a matter of colored archetypes, it’s more a matter of what powerful cards you see. I prioritize planeswalkers and then Rampant Growth effects. Usually, I end up Bant, but I’ve been known to cast a lethal Tendrils of Agony here and there. Reanimator and red (or Boros) aggro are both solid as well.

Me: How do you feel about Gatecrash Sealed?

Andrew: I am currently dreading it, but I am planning on playing a lot of sealed Daily Events this week to prepare.

Me: For our kind readers, what would you play in Modern and Pauper?

Andrew: I would probably play white weenie in Pauper since it was always reasonable against the other fair decks, and Wizards banned a large portion of the unfair decks. For Modern, I would play a Splinter Twin deck—U/R and Raka-style are both fine.

Me: Well, I look forward to seeing what happens in the MOCS at PAX East. Unfortunately, it’s the same weekend as Grand Prix: Pittsburgh for me, so I will not be watching you live, but I will catch up on written coverage. Best of luck to you! I hope either you or Reid wins!

Andrew: [laughs] Thanks.