Talking With the Pros:

Adrian Sullivan, Part II

Welcome to part two of my interview with Adrian Sullivan, we'll just plunge right in!

     One of Adrian's more recent popular decks is a deck called "Chevy Fires", a unique version of Fires in Standard.  Even more recently is "Chevy Blue".    I wondered what the story was behind the names of these two decks, exactly what makes a deck a "Chevy" deck?

     "It's a reference to a story.", Adrian said.  "One of my friends would always go out driving with his hick friend.  One rainy night they were driving down the bluffs in their truck, and they saw a truck ahead of them hydroplaning on the road.  My friend started getting really worried, because the driver moved to pass the guy.  "What are you doing?  He's hydroplaning, we shouldn't be going FASTER than him in this weather!"  "He's drivin' a Ford.  Bad design.  This is a Chevy.  This story gave 'Chevy Fires' its name."

     So, I said to Adrian, this means that a deck that has a better design is a "Chevy" deck.  "Exactly." Adrian told me.


     As I've established, Adrian is well-known for his deckbuilding skills, and for good reason.  However, sometimes in a format it seems like there really is only a couple decks to play, so I asked Adrian if he has ever "mailed it in" and just played a typical deck for the format?

     "There is always innovation.  For High Tide season, for example, Cabal Rogue made a High Tide deck that just beat other High Tide decks.  Little innovations are always doable.  For Example, we ran main deck Disrupt, and no Mind Over Matter.  With PT-Japan, it was Crypt Angel in Black/Red(green), which is now almost standard.  In tournaments, there are always small things you can do to a deck to give you an edge."  True as that may be, I often see players making small changes to decks with little or no testing to make the deck more unique, and I tend to think that oftentimes they make the deck weaker or less focused.  I asked Adrian what he thought the odds were that such changes would actually improve the deck versus making it weaker.  "Well, if you change someone else's deck, you have to be aware that they are more than likely to know the deck better than you do.  Changing cards is fine, but you HAVE to test the deck before and after the changes, you can very much make a deck a lot worse by changing a card.  For example, with Chevy Blue, I've had tons of people come to me with changes for the deck, and, most often, it included adding a land.  I know from several thousand playtest games that that change would be an error.  I've had people cut Powersink.  Again, I know that that is an error.  They did it because they thought it was right, and they never bothered just to try the deck as is."


     Finally, to wrap things up, I asked Adrian if there was any one thing he could change about Magic, what would it be?

     "If I could change Magic I would change one of R&D's major tenets.  They firmly believe that printing 'Wallpaper' cards is a good idea.", said Adrian.

     "Cards like Pale Moon?", I asked.  "Yeah."  Adrian said.  I asked him why they do that and why he was so opposed to it.

     "They feel that cards such as Pale Moon give newer players an experience that is important.  Basically, they feel that new players get to feel a bit superior to their previous self and other new players when they begin to recognize cards are bad.  And, I think that there are other experiences that could easily be just as valuable.  Like recognizing that cards don't work well together.  When you see someone with Aether Flash in play, and they cast a 1/1 for example."


     I asked Adrian if he had any final words that he'd like to share to wrap up the interview, and he had this to share:

     "Well, I'm trying to get back into the swing of my game.  I've spent a lot of work on it and I hope to find that the work will pay off.  I'm hoping US Nationals will be my coming out party, so to speak."


     So when you're keeping an eye on the Nationals coverage at, be sure to take a look at how Adrian Sullivan is doing, and let's see if he can finally get that elusive major title this year.


     Again, please let me know what you thought of this interview, and if you'd like to see more in the future!  I enjoyed doing it, and hope that you guys liked reading it too!

Tim Stoltzfus