Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Updated Website!


Updated my site to a new and cleaner look. And I added a lot more work. Check it out!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Update...


Wow. It has been over a year since I last blogged here. That's a shame. I've mainly used this blog as a way to just get stuff off my chest. And it kind of took an odd turn and became entirely about Magic: The Gathering. Really I just want to start getting my own personal stuff out. I'm just going to link it to other social media. Here we go...







These listed sites are my own personal website, my tumblr to see any new work, my Twitter and Facebook. Also are Magic: The Gathering sites that I've contributed to over the last year.

Peace and love! Have a wonderful year. Until next time.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Human Nature

U/W Humans...can’t kill them. ::beat:: Pass the beernuts.

After deciding to not attend the PTQ due to inadequate testing with Jund, I decided to return to FNM the following Friday. Since I have been messing with Modern for the past month or so, I didn’t really have a Type 2 deck that I wanted to play. I already played Wolf Run Ramp with success and my Tezzeret build as well (although my only losses were to Humans). I have a Red Deck Wins but un-polished so that was out of the question. The only other Type 2 deck I had was my modified Ghost Blade deck that looked oddly like U/W Humans. Here is what I played.

Doomed Traveler x 4
Leonin Relic-Warder x 3
Fiend Hunter x 3
Mirran Crusader x 4
Geist of Saint Traft x 4
Hero of Bladehold x 4
Dismember x 3
Oblivion Ring x 3
Honor of the Pure x 4
Sword of War and Peace x 2
Sword of Feast and Famine x 2
Moorland Haunt x 3
Seachrome Coast x 4
Glacial Fortress x 4
Islands x 2
Plains x 11

Gideon Jura x 2
Oblivion Ring x 1
Leonin Relic-Warder x 1
Oblivion Ring x 1
Fiend Hunter x 1
Spellskite x 3
Surgical Extraction x 3
Celestial Purge x 3

Yeah yeah. I know. I know. I basically said Humans was a bitch deck that was all about the deck and NOT about the pilot. I was wrong. I said it! I WAS WRONG. That being said, what I complained about few FNM reports ago was ANGELIC DESTINY on MIRRAN CRUSADER was completely the most un-skill intensive play in Magic. I stand by that. Why? Because I have a big fat goose egg in the Angelic Destiny category. Instead I prefer a skill card like Swords of Feast and Famine AND War and Peace.

I played the deck because, heck, if you can’t beat them? Join them? And I didn’t have other options. So what makes my build different then most? NO MANA LEAK. Yes, no Mana Leaks. Why? Because why would an AGGRO deck want to pause at two mana to counter something? You don’t. You want to keep playing threats and apply pressure until your opponent is dead. D. E. A. D. Instead I loaded up with some control elements and shit ton of 2-for-1s. Let me explain. I know my meta at Lakeland CoC is chock full of creature based aggro strategies, mainly UW Humans. So I loaded up on shit to stop those strategies at the same time giving me game against the rest of the field. I did that by playing Fiend Hunters and Leonin Relic-Warders. Warders are great for stealing Oblivion Rings, Angelic Destinies and opposing Swords and provide a 2/2 bear that can pick up your own Swords. Fiend Hunter, IMO, is great because he steals tempo from an Aggro deck and provides a 1/3 body that a lot of dudes can’t get through, mainly Illusions and Red Deck Wins type dudes. The build I played is more or less a Mid-Range deck that can play control vs. opposing aggro strats or aggro vs. control strats. It is a solid deck and is increasing in popularity. Playing against it many times has soured me on the whole deck but actually running it, the deck plays very well.

Here we go...

Before I get into it, because I got smoked by noobs playing Humans before, I honestly didn’t want a repeat of that night. Every game I thought to myself, “No game is an auto win.” This phrase helped me to really focus to make the best plays possible and see the board state clearly and any and all outs that were possible in any given situation.

ROUND 1: Michael playing Red Deck Wins

Game 1: He is a newer player that I helped tweak his deck from the last time we met but he honestly doesn’t stand a chance. He gets me to 10 before running out of gas. I stick a Mirran Crusader with a SOWAP and its on to game 2.

Game 2: I side out all my Dismembers and side in Celestial Purges and Spellskites. He has a grip full of burn and gets me to 8. I stabilize with an Honor of the Pure and Hero of Bladehold. Its done in 2 turns.

2-0 / 2-0 / 1-0

ROUND 2: J.C. Playing U/W Control
J.C. Is an older player but new to our area. I have seen him a few times, the last time he won First Place the week I rocked my Tezzeret Deck. He is a very good player and knows the game, his deck and the matchup very well. No game is an auto win. I hunker down and prepare for a long match.

Game 1: I have an idea of what he is playing but a specific decklist. The advantage I have is the moment he sees Seachrome Coast for a Doomed Traveler he plays around Mana Leaks that I just don’t have. This game is epic. He is basically on his back foot the entire game though. Every card I needed at every given point came to the top of my deck for me. I played a total of 3 Geist of Saint Traft this game as he played 3 Day of Judgements off of Snapcasters. But the DoJs fuel my Moorland Haunt which is an extremely unfair card. I Top deck a SOWP and it is over.

Game 2: J.C. Says, “This is either going to be a very quick game or a very long game.” I curve out perfectly and use Warders to steal his SOFAI and an O-Ring and a Fiend Hunter to steal a Snapcaster. I stick a Geist of Saint Traft with SOWAP and its done. Very quick game indeed.

All in all it was a great matchup and we traded play after play, blow after blow, both trying to stay in it. I think it could have gone either way.

2-0 / 4-0 / 2-0

ROUND 3: Nathan playing U/W Humans
Nathan is the guy that dropped an Angelic Destiny on a Mirran Crusader to end my world a few FNMs ago so I wanted a little bit of revenge. I did beat him last FNM pretty handedly with my Wolf Run Ramp deck but I KNEW he was playing Humans so I really wanted to curb stomp him. No game is an auto win.

Game 1: I feel good about the matchup because my curveball Warders and Fiend Hunters are favorable. It really does come down to that. We both used O-Rings on respective creatures and Swords but with my Warders I was able to get my equipment back. Mirran Crusader picks up SOFAF and it is pretty much over. Double mana a turn is very good.

Game 2: I sideboard in my extra 2-for-1 dudes and an O-Ring which all come in very handy. He makes a huge mistake and plays Nevermore calling Oblivion Ring not realizing until it was too late that it shuts down the O-Ring he draws. I have an awesome play FTW where I Warder his Nevermore, play on O-Ring on a blocker, equip a only dude and swing for lethal.

2-0 / 6-0 / 3-0

ROUND 4: Shane playing Red Deck Wins
I have played this kid before as well. He and his brother are both very solid players and switch between two decks each FNM. They run a very polished Red Deck Wins and a strange Parallel Lives combo deck. I unfortunately have to play against RDW. No game is an auto win.

Game 1: He curves out beautifully with a turn 1 Noble, turn 2 Shrine, turn 3 Gut Shot into Berserker, turn 4 Volt Charge to pump ALL his shit. I have a Dismember for the Noble, a Warder for the Shrine while he is tapped out, and a Fiend Hunter for the Berserker. He lands a Lavamancer and pings away at me until I am at 1 but he ran out of fuel out of his graveyard. By this time I am loading up with a Mirran Crusader and a Geist. He slows me down with some blocks and comes down to a top deck that he needs. He doesn’t get their. He probably had 8 more burn spells left in his deck. I got very very lucky. But I did play it as best as I could.

Game 2: This game he is in trouble as he must mulligan and doesn’t have an aggressive start. I land a Geist and steal his blockers with Fiend Hunters. I strap on a SOWAP and it is done. He did burn me down to 8 before I finally killed him. Tough beats.

2-0 / 8-0 / 4-0

ROUND 5: Felix playing Burning Vengeance
This is a matchup I did not want to play. Felix is a very good player and knows the game, his deck and MY deck very well. The fact he is packing 3 Day of Judgements and 4 Snapcasters really scares me.

Game 1: This is a long drawn out game that comes me who can stick a Geist of Saint Traft first. I keep Legend ruling out his Geists and he keeps on DoJing mine. His deck is geared to grind out wins on the back of Burning Vengeance and tempo stealer Feeling of Dread. This game comes down to me with Honor of the Pure and a Moorland Haunt which keeps pumping out 2/2 Flyers. I squeak a win out here.

Game 2: Is very unfair as I side in like 10 cards against him including Spellskites to stop Burning Vengeance plus Oblivion Ring, Warder, and Surgical Extrations. I think I boarded in Celestial Purges as well. This game I neuter his entire deck of every threat he could possibly have. I hit all three of my Extractions and take all his Geists, Day of Judgements AND Mana Leaks. His deck does what it does and digs and digs. He effectively has zero outs as I Oblivion Ring and Warder consecutive Burning Vengeances. I get a guy with a Sword and close out a very difficult matchup.

2-0 / 10-0 / 5-0

It has been since before Innistrad that I took First in an FNM so this felt pretty damn good. I felt like I played my heart out and made ALL the correct plays in every given situation. It felt like I was Neo from the Matrix. Yes, the deck does a lot on its own because the card quality is so good. But my decision making and play made me get through a lot of the tough matchups. Against the UW Control deck it could have gone either way. Against the RDW decks I could easily have been toast if they had good top decks.

Until next time...

No game is an auto win.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Japanese Know What's Up

Last week at FNM I took a version of the Worlds winning Wolf Run deck to a winning record. The reason I like this iteration of Wolf Run because 8 maindeck Titans seem good. Here's what I played.

Primeval Titan x 4
Inferno Titan x 4
Solemn Simulacrum x 4
Phyrexian Metamorph x 2
Viridian Emissiary x 2
Rampant Growth x 4
Sphere of the Suns x 4
Incinerate x 4
Slagstorm x 4
Devil’s Play x 2
Beast Within x 2
Inkmoth Nexus x 4
Kessig Wolf Run x 3
Mountain x 2
Forests x 6
Rootbound Crag x 4
Copperline Gorge x 4
Ghost Quarter x 1

Ancient Grudge x 3
Acidic Slime x 2
Beast Within x 2
Arc Trail x 3
Surgical Extraction x 3
Ghost Quarter x 1
Thrun the Last Troll x 1

Major differences in my version versus the Worlds deck are my choice in spot removal, the tutor package or lack thereof, and the inclusion of Metamorphs.

The spot removal that the Japanese winner, I forget his name nor do I feel like looking it up, was Galvanic Blasts and Shock. I understand this choice because he can react to turn 1 drops on his own turn one. I have no real reason running incinerate other then I prefer to deal 3 damage rather then 2. I do understand that 1cc vs. 2cc is a world of difference in Magic but I stand by my decision to run Incinerates. In hindsight there is nothing that I really need to kill at 3 toughness versus 2 toughness, meaning I should probably rock the 1cc removal spells. I suppose in the future, knowing my metagame, Arc Trail is a better inclusion because it is a great 2 for 1. I will look to that. With Humans, RDW and Illusions in  my shop, I think Arc Trail may be a better fit. But I do love the instant speed of Incinerate. I will need to explore this if I continue to use Wolf Run at the Grand Prix.

My lack of Green Sun’s Zenith is two fold. First off, it can’t tutor more then half of my creatures. Primeval Titan and Viridian Emissary are my only targets so I felt it just wasn’t worth the 2-3 slots. Plus, I really hate 1 maindeck Birds of Paradise. That just seems like an auto Gut Shot for a tempo loss and two cards (if it is tutored out early). Instead I preferred consistency in getting turn 4 Titan. I added Emissaries for extra 2 drops to help having early action.

You may think Phyrexian Metamorph is an odd card to have in a Wolf Run deck. This may be true but I think it is a great inclusion. This card is an allstar for me and is ALWAYS value. It basically acts as Titans #9 and #10. Not only that but it can copy Solemns for value or opposing threats. It has even helped me Legend rule out pesky cards like Geist of Saint Traft. Bringing in Acidic Slimes from the board (probably should have 2 maindeck as well), Metamorph really shines by stealing lands and tempo, especially in a mirror match. I like this card so much it might be a 3-of in the near future.

Let’s see how I faired at FNM.

ROUND 1: Tim playing Jund Wolf Run
This was a tough matchup versus a good young player who is also a Level One judge.

Game 1 comes down to getting a Primeval Titan out first, which I do.

Game 2 he Despises my Primeval and Memoricides it a few turns later. He gets a Grave Titan out and has the Doom Blade for my Inferno Titan.

Game 3 I don't get early ramp and he does. He gets Primeval out first and I die to a Wolf Ran Inkmoth. FML

1-2 / 1-2 / 0-1

ROUND 2: Nathan playing GW Tokens

Nathan is the guy that ran me over last FNM with Humans. I do not treat this match lightly like I mistakenly did our last meeting.

Game 1 I come to find out he is running Tokens instead of Humans. I play accordingly. This game isn't good for him since I have maindeck Slagstorm x 4 which I hit two of in the processes of having a total of three Inferno Titans in play thanks to Metamorph.

Game 2 isn't any better for him after I side in all my Arc Trails and Slimes for his Intangible Virtues. It goes rather quickly off a Wolf Ran trampling Primeval Titan FTW.

2-0 / 3-2 / 1-1

ROUND 3: Unknown playing Mono-Green Stompy
This is a new player who only started a few months ago. I feel bad about this entire match.

Game 1 he plays mana dudes and aggressive green guys which I sweep away with Slagstorm. I land an early Inferno Titan and go to town. I dome him with a total of 3 Incinerates to finish it off.

Game 2 I have 3 Inkmoth Nexuses (or Nexi?) in hand. Based on Game 1 I keep and hopefully race with Poison, which I end up doing in consecutive turns.

Like I said. I felt bad about his match.
2-0 / 5-2 / 2-1

ROUND 4: Unknown playing RDW

Another sorta noob who has been play for a while but never competitively until recently.

Game 1 I am mana light with only 1 ramp spell and all Titans. He runs me over quickly to 5 with little red dudes before I can stabilize. He runs out of gas and I get a Titan kill.

Game 2 isn't even a fair. Its like he brought a knife to a gun fight. I Turn 4 Primeval and set up for an Inkmoth kill. He never had a chance.

2-0 / 7-2 / 3-1

ROUND 5: Adam playing Solar Flare
Adam is what I like to call a Ringer. In a room full of FNMers, Adam is a dedicated grinder and plays on the PTQ circuit up at Armada as well as Phoenix and Coolstuff Inc. He is a very good player. Smart and calculating. Until now I've never played him before.

Game 1 I get rolling with early ramp and dome him with a few Incinerates while he has no action until a Rune Scarred Demon hits the board. He has answers for my Primeval and Inferno Titans but the damage has already been done as I was able to get all 4 Inkmoths out and just poison him with smart attacks. I get him to 6 poison by the time he lands Elesh Norn which I Beast Within. He Unburial Rites Elesh which I Metamorph Legend kill. I have him to 1 poison by the time he Phantasmal Images for Spellskite which effectively shuts me out of a very hard fought game. 

Game 2 my opener is Kessig, Inkmoth, Forest, Inferno x 2,  Primeval and a Devil's Play. I ship it back because of no Red mana and no ramp spells. In hindsight I should have kept. My next 6 are no lands. My 5 I keep with 3 lands, Solemn and Metamorph. Considering I am short 2 cards I do particularly well. He doesn't just roll me over this game. I am able to get my game plan going of attacking his lands with Beast Within, Acidic Slimes and Metamorphs which I effectively do until I can get Inferno Titan out. One play I go to Metamorph a Slime and he Doom Blades my Slime to force me to copy my Solemn. After I stick Inferno he Day of Judgements. I draw 2 cards off of my Solemns into, not kidding, two more Inferno Titans. I play the first Titan. Then the second and get him fairly low on life before my world breaks open. He Go for the Throats one of my Titans. Then he flashes back Unburial Rites for Sun Titan chaining in Phantasmal Image copying Sun Titan getting back Snapcaster Mage for Doom Blade effectively killing my team in the process of building his own. Seems good. I have two outs that haven't shown up yet, Devil's Play. I have enough mana to kill him as well. He flashes me the Dissipate and I scoop.

0-2 / 7-4 / 3-2

Turns out to be the best match I had all night even though it resulted in a loss. I feel like playing better players makes me a better player. I told him I was going to Grand Prix Orlando to check out side events. He urges me to play in the main event. I say, "I'm not good enough to play in a Grand Prix anymore." He says otherwise. Those kind words have fired me up enough to prep for Grand Prix Orlando. We'll see what happens.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why I Hate the Human Race

Last Friday, after weeks without playing Magic, I was able to sleeve up a deck and have some fun.

The deck I decided to use was a new take on a Tezzeret build by pro player Shaheen Soorani. A few months back Soorani wrote on article about how important Tezzeret is for one reason: he lets you dig 5 cards deep every turn. Why is this important? There was a card in previous season’s standard that let you dig 3 cards deep every turn with no draw back. Remember that card?

Good. What was that card again? Oh yeah, JACE THE MINDSCULPTOR.

Tezzeret is kinda like a poor man’s Jace in a way. He lets you dig, but 5 cards instead of 3 cards, and you can select one, conditionally. He is also able to protect your nuts if need be, conditionally of course. Or he can flat out just win you games...once again, conditionally.

What’s the condition you ask?


Your deck must, MUST be geared toward abusing artifacts to your advantage. This deck certainly does that. Let’s take a look.


Wurmcoil Engine x 2
Phyrexian Metamorph x 2
Grave Titan x 2
Solemn Simulacrum x 3
Consecrated Sphinx x 1
Batterskull x 1
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas x 4
Mana Leak x 4
Dissipate x 2
Doom Blade x 4
Go for the Throat x 1
Dismember x 1
Ichor Wellspring x 4
Mycosynth Wellspring x 1
Ratchet Bomb x 2
Black Sun’s Zenith x 2
Darkslick Shores x 4
Drowned Catacombs x 4
Buried Ruins x 2
Phyrexian Core x 2
Ghost Quarter x 1
Swamps x 6
Islands x 5

Black Sun’s Zenith x 2
Ratchet Bomb x 2
Batterskull x 1
Wurmcoil Engine x 1
Surgical Extraction x 2
Deathmark x 3
Flashfreeze x 4

Oh, that’s sexy.

Now, his deck build had some 1 and 2-ofs that I either cut or just didn’t have the cards, case in point Liliana Nouveau. As fantastic as she would be, 2 of them could easily be replaced with good spot removal, which I did by amping up the Doom Blades to 4 and using a Dismember for mana efficiency. He also had main deck odd artifacts like Mimic Vat, while an awesome card, but as a 1-of just didn’t get my gonads going. So I cut it, along with the maindeck Nihil Spellbombs. Spellbomb is great but I am in a metagame where Solar Flare isn’t a deck.

The reason I rocked Tezzeret is well, this deck can flat out just step on a person’s neck and never let up. It is really a midrange deck that can go, depending on your draw and matchup, aggro or control. I’ll get to all of that when I talk about my matches. The main reason, other then to abuse Tezzeret, that I liked the deck, is it uses the two Wellsprings to gain incremental card advantage.  It also packs some of the awesomest Artifact duders like Wurmcoil and Batterskull. Seems good.

Before I get into my FNM report I’d like to discuss why I hate Humans. Wizards of the Coast is very cyclical in nature and everything moves round and round as the years have gone by. A few years ago blue based decks became so powerful they made the game just flat out not fun to play. Case in point: Faeries. Faeries got screwed when certain Jundian answers where printed and after Lorwyn rotated the deck was lost. Real blue based control decks were lost for a while having no good counterspells and reverting to UW Tap Out Control styled decks that just folded to the Jund Menace. For a while Jund and Green based decks dominated until Caw-Blade became a deck. Blue based control decks were back and with a vengeance, Caw-Blade having the most ignorant Top 8 finishes, even higher percentages then Affinity at its height. Jace was, along with Stoneforge Mystic, banned and now Blue based control decks are on the decline, nary a UW or UB based control deck around.

You could argue that decks that run Snapcaster Mage are in fact Control decks but honestly, they are not. UR Delver is a Tempo deck. Illusions is an Aggro/Tempo deck. No other decks really run Snapcaster to the control capacity.

Now, back to why I hate HUMANS! If Magic is cyclical and control was at an all time high with Fae, then a low with Tap Out control, then a high again with Caw-Blade then the same could be said for White-Based Aggro decks. THEY ARE AT AN ALL TIME HIGH. When I first started playing Magic there were 3 decks any beginner, any noob, any novice, could pick up and potentially beat faces with: Goblins, Stompy and Weenie White. Don’t get me wrong. All three strategies are legitmate, but do not take a certain degree of skill to win, nor are really fun to play. Honestly, for me, Stompy just wasn’t enough. There are only so many times you can Giant Growth and Berserk a Scryb Spite that is enchanted with Aspect of the Wolf. Goblins was basically Stompy with Burn. Burn is a whole other topic because that deck actually does take skill. Now, I’ve seen White Weenie decks just crush people. I used to play the deck when it rocked Crusades and Army of Allah maindeck. I know how to play some White Weenie strategies. My brother, the best Magic player I’ve ever seen, used to rock a White Weenie based 5/C Aggro deck back when Type 1 was not about jerking off and seeing who could come first. My brother’s White Weenie deck played Channel/Fireball maindeck for Godsakes! It was epic.

White Weenie has had it’s ups and downs over the years. It was super dominate when Rebel chains where all over the place. It saw some action in the form of Boros, White Weenie with a little burn on the side. They tried to amp it back up when Soldiers became sort of a thing but never took off as it should have. It was at a small rise once again when Soul Sisters was real last season then fell off the metagame. Now it is back and better then ever in the form of UW Humans. 

I want to preface my FNM report with why I hate UW Humans because I lost to basically the same deck two rounds in a row. In particular, Mirran Crusader amped up to deal 8-12 damage a swing me nary a non-black spot removal spell. How do I know that White Weenie is at an all time high? It is able to fight all the deck archetypes, save Combo (which doesn't exist in current standard). Grand Abolisher fights counterspells and spot removal. Doomed Traveler fights Day of Judgement and pinpoint burn spells. Hero of Bladehold also fights mass removal because it is an instant army. A lot of its dudes have anti-every other deck in the form of Geist of Saint Traft and Mirran Crusader. To top all of this off...Angelic Destiny is the gigantic cherry on top.

Why do I hate humans then? I'm glad you asked.

1. This deck doesn't take much skill to win. Stick a threat and attack until they can't deal with it. Then stick another threat this time with an Angelic Destiny or Sword strapped to it's dick while it fucks you over. Oh, they clear your board? Strap the Sword onto the Spirit Token left behind. Ignorant. 

2. Its guys are way to efficient to the point of unfair. Doomed Traveler is a free guy that trades with a guy and nets you a card. Oh, and it flys. Gideon's Lawkeeper is a 1cc Icy Manipulator. Mirran Crusader is a 3cc 4/2 or better. Geist is a 3cc 6/6. And Hero of Bladehold is a 4cc army of dudes. 

3. The deck has been blessed with a very efficient long game in Moorland Haunt. At first I thought this card was lame but realized in UW Humans, its like Bitterblossom if used correctly. And with Angelic Destiny, Swords left behind or 1-2 Honor of the Pure on the board, those Spirit Tokens can close the game out.

4. Lastly, White Weenie is like Magic with training wheels on. UW Humans is no different. It is just not an exciting deck. Now, I understand to a new player, winning is fucking awesome. Humans gives a new player a very very good chance of that. It just doesn't do much to earn that win save dropping Angelic Destiny on Mirran Crusader.

Enough of the hating on Humans rant. On to the content.

Round 1: Felix playing UWR Burning Vengeance Tempo
This is really not the deck I wanted to play against. Last FNM Felix and I had an epic 3-game match that came down to me making a few critical play mistakes and his deck being able to grind out a win. His take on Burning Vengeance is legit and on the back of Feeling of Dread, can just steal games.

Game 1: Right off the bat this game is insane. We play draw go for a while until I tap out to play Solemn to ramp. He plays Forbidden Alchemy and bins Geist of Saint Traft and two lands. While I'm tapped out plays Geist. I play Metamorph, copy the Geist and Legend rule. 2 down. Next turn he plays another Geist. Shit. I play Black Sun's Zenith for 2 and Ratchet bomb to hit the Burning Vengeance he stuck earlier. He then plays the 4th Geist which I Ratchet Bomb after he gets a few swings in. This also takes out his Enchantment. He uses Feeling of Dread a few times and I stick a Batterskull, which seals the game.

Game 2: I side in a Batterskull, Wurmcoil Engine, Ratchet Bomb, Black Suns and Surgical Extractions. I know his deck goes to the long game and I want to be prepared with late game bombs. He goes first with tapped lands. I go and play a Wellspring. He plays Geist which I Mana Leak then Phyrexian life pay for Surgical Extraction on Geist while he is tapped out. That takes out most of the wind from his sails. I stick Tezzeret with some Wellsprings and eventually make 3 5/5s and he packs it in.

I really thought this was a loss first round since Felix is a very good player and his deck can steal games by grinding out wins. Whew. Tough first round.

2-0 / 2-0 / 1-0

Round 2: Juan playing UW Humans
Game 1: This game is a long drawn out affair with Juan sticking a Gideon's Lawkeeper. I Doom Blade and Mana Leak his next 4 creatures, Grand Abolisher x 2 and Hero of Bladehold x 2. I get a Wurmcoil Engine out. He gets a Geist of Saint Traft. He Icy's my Engine. I get a Metamorph on in Engine. He gets an Angelic Destiny on Geist. I am unable to keep up with the 10 damage a turn while he keeps tapping my Engine down.

Game 2: I totally punt this game away. He has a Gideon's Lawkeeper and then plays a Mirran Crusader. I played Ichor Wellspring and decide to go aggressive on him and put him on his back foot. On Turn 4 instead of just Black Sun Zenithing his team for value or keep mana open to Mana Leak Angelic Destiny I play Tezzeret, make my Wellspring a 5/5 and attack. he takes the damage, drops a land while I'm tapped out and plays the Destiny on Mirran Crusader. I scoop it up.

Bad call on my part for sure. In this match up he is clearly the Beatdown and I should have played it out as such. Had I made that early distinction I probably would have won that game.

0-2 / 2-2 / 1-1

Round 3: Nathan playing UB Humans
Nathan is a new player whom I have crushed in previous FNMs. I go into the game like The Saints going to play the Rams. I thought this was an autowin.
Game 1: I arrogantly keep a Metamorph, Wellspring and 5 land hand. This is a long drawn out game were I deal with all his threats via spot removal, BSZ and Ratchet Bomb. He Oblivion Rings and Pacifies my first three threats. He has a crazy team of 7 dudes after sticking a Geist Honored Monk. I draw into the BSZ again and clear the team. I play Tezzeret and dig. I land a Wurmcoil Engine. Next turn I activate Tezzeret and land a second Wurmcoil that I proceed to Metamorph for the win.

Game 2: I side in two more Ratchet Bombs and two more BSZs. This game goes rather quickly. I clear every threat he drops and run out of removal. He top decks Mirran Crusader as I hold a Go for the Throat. He drops an Angelic Destiny on it and I die to the bastard Human again.

Game 3: This game is slightly more epic then me getting killed by a horde of Humans. I control the board and use both Wellsprings and Solemns for advantage. I eventually get Tezzeret. He decides to use his guys to attack me instead of Tezzeret. He plays Nevermore and names Wurmcoil. I dig to find another Solemn and Wellspring. I ultimate Tezzeret to Drain his Life for 8. It keeps me in the game for a little while but his growing Champions of the Parish, 3 spirit tokens with an Adaptive Automaton cut me back down before I can Ratchet bomb his Tokens and BSZ the rest of his team. I'm in top deck mode. Enchanted Mirran Crusader is two swings away from winning. I dig and dig with no action.

In hindsight I am thinking of maybe putting Mind Controls or Tumble Magnets in the sideboard.

1-2 / 3-4 / 1-2

Round 4: Aaron playing Junk Pod

Game 1: Aaron was joking about running Mono-Black Infect much to my chagrin. Luckily I found out he was rocking Junk Pod of his own design. This game goes rather long as he plays around my Mana Leaks. He gets an early Pod that I eventually Ratchet Bomb away. But it is too late as he chained up rather quickly into a Sheoldred, the Whispering One. I play Phyrexian Metamorph to Legend rule that bitches ass after sacrificing a Batterskull Germ. He eventually gets a Metamorph of his own to copy my Batterskull which I have the Go for the Throat for his germ. We go back and forth for a while gaining and losing life and trading guys away. I eventually get a Grave Titan that I copy with my second Metamorph. He plays defense for a long time with a Resembling Skeleton as I gain chunks of life in droves of 10. He plays Sun Titan which I Dissipate to force the scoop.

Game 2: Aaron draws, chuckles and keeps. He get no first turn action. He does get second turn Pilgrim which does him no good. We play draw go for a while as I play 3 Wellsprings and a Ratchet Bomb which I use at 2 to Ancestral Recall off of my artifacts. I then get the Bomb back with Buried Ruin. I use that bomb to Ratchet up to kill his Birthing Pod and an Entomber Exarch that has been causing me problems to the point he actually Jedi Mind Tricks me into using a Mana Leak he clearly has mana to pay for. At this point it doesn't matter as he has zero action and I have Tezzeret netting me 5/5s and Wurmcoils for the win. He showed me his cards in his hand. Another Avacyn Pilgrim and land.

2-0 / 5-4 / 2-2

I ended up fifth place finish out of 16. I am just happy I'm .500 in rounds and up a game in wins before the night through. Humans really messes with my deck and if I play Tezzeret again it will have to be with a Human metagame in mind. Tumble Magnets and Mind Controls may have to come in for those crappy matchups.

Played for practice before FNM started and between rounds.

These are the decks I ran:
Japanese Wolf Run Ramp: 2-1
UW Humans: 2-0
BG Pod: 4-0

Ironically I did have a UW Humans build which I really don't like enough to just change it back to a more UW Blade Control build. Japanese Wolf Run is so good It is crazy. The threat density is so high with 8 Titans I really enjoy that deck. BG Pod is also fun. One game I was able to get Sheoldred out by Podding a Grave Titan only to get it back in my upkeep. It was very good. I do like the deck but am considering some spot removal in Beast Withins and Doomblade just for Inkmoth Nexus matchups.

Until next time. Peace out my ninjas...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Geist in the Shell

Tonight I had a chance to hit up FNM since the effing debacle Mono-Black Infect turned out to be. I'm not really a fan of Innistrad but there have been some definitely powerful cards from the set. Although the "Horror" theme has turned me off from the set, it is hard to deny how crazy good a hand full of cards are.

One of the sickest cards from Innistrad is Geist of Saint Traft. 6 power damage for 3cc is pretty damn good. I remember when 5/5s for 4 was good but the power creep has gotten way out of control. The upside to the card is minimal casting cost to power ratio. The downside is the 2/2 Hexproof can be blocked by a number of creatures and just die. I think this card is one of the most powerful cards from the set and decided to sleeve it up in my deck.

I couldn't help myself with this card. I initially thought I wouldn't buy into them but Snapcaster Mage is the real deal. And if it takes a turn the same direction Dark Confidant or Tarmagoyf went then I could profit pretty good here. Snapcaster is seeing multi-format playability so it is a card to watch out for. If you pack one make sure to hold onto it for a while. It is the only card from Innistrad that will hold it's value.

I stopped by Armada Games and traded tons of Modern cards, odd foils and extras to get the cards I needed.

Based on these two cards I was able to wiggle them into my UW Ghost Blade deck that uses Midnight Haunting and Timely Reinforcements as Squadron Hawks. It still has Swords of Feast and Famine and Gideon Jura to steal tempo and add a clock. Snapcasters mixed with the token spells can really play havok against any deck.

Here is what I played:

Snapcaster Mage x 4
Geist of Saint Traft x 2
Sun Titan x 2
Gideon Jura x 2
Midnight Haunting x 4
Timely Reinforcements x 1
Think Twice x 4
Mana Leak x 4
Dissipate x 3
Dismember x 3
Oblivion Ring x 3
Day of Judgement x 2
Seachrome Coast x 4
Glacial Fortress x 4
Ghost Quarter x 2
Islands x 8
Plains x 8

Flashfreeze x 4
Day of Judgement x 2
Oblivion Ring x 1
Dismember x 1
Spellskite x 3
Timely Reinforcement x 2
Mental Mistep x 2

ROUND 1: Dude playing Red Deck Wins
Game 1: He gets an early Furnace Scamp which gets in for 4 damage. I get a Geist with a Sword of Feast and Famine and its over pretty quickly. Red can't do anything versus Geist save blocking it since all its spells are targeted.

Game 2: This is a long drawn out game that I just a total of 3 Timely Reinforcements to keep myself in the game. I comes down to the wire as he smashes away with 2 Chandra's Phoenixes. I eventually get a SoFaF out and start closing the game out. Gideon finishes it off.

1-0 / 2-0

ROUND 2: Ian playing Naya-Pod
Ian is one of the players I befriended at Lakeland CoC when I first moved to Florida. He is a very solid player and has come a long way since I first met him. I know this is going to be a tough match.

Game 1: Ian gets a very early jump with Birds into Blade Splicer and Viridian Shaman over the course of three turns. He is on the beat down plan. I'm on my back foot the entire game in search of a Day of Judgement. I am very color screwed with all plains and a Ghost Quarter and NO blue sources. When I do get a Seachrome he blows it up with Acidic Slime. I stick a Sun Titan and Geist but he plays Phyrexian Metamorph to copy Titan and gets Splicer back. I get run over handedly.

Game 2: This game is in my favor when he doesn't get a turn 1 mana dude. I get an early Geist on the beatdown plan, stick a Gideon to steal tempo, hit a Midnight Haunting and SoFaF to finish out.

Game 3 is an epic game that brings up to time. The game is very easily matched for most of the game. I am able to stall with two Oblivion Rings, some counter magic and some Spirit Tokens doing some work.  Snapcaster shenanigans also help stall until I can get a Gideon and Geist online. All the while his board is so developed with his ramp dudes like Solemn, Viridian and a Pilgrim. At one point in the game he plays a Geist Honored Monk that I quickly O-Ring but the flying spirit tokens get some work done with him in combination with Kessig Wolf Run. I stall for a while with Gideon, he Acidic Slimes the O-Ring to get back his Geist. I have only 1 of  my 4 Day of Judgements to get me out of this mess. I untap and draw. It's a Day of Judgement. I restart the game. We both tank for a number of turns but any threat he plays is almost lethal with his Kessig out. At this point I'm semi-stabilizing with some Spirit Tokens but he rips a few small guys that get in with the help of Kessig then closes it out when Elesh Norn drops. It was an epic fucking match and I do not mind losing to a friend and a good player.

1-1 / 3-2

ROUND 3: Felix playing RWU Burning Vengeance
GAME 1: This is a very interesting deck that runs on Burning Vengeance and Flashback spells like Think Twice, Desperate Ravings, Forbidden Alchemy and company. He uses a white card that taps down two guys and flashbacks to tap two more for only 2 mana. This card steals so much tempo and is cheap to buyback. This game I run on all cylinders with early Tokens, a Sword and Gideon on consecutive turns to close it out.

GAME 2: This is a good game as well but this time he gets the early Geist of Saint Traft, which I didn't see in the first game so I didn't sideboard accordingly when I basically took out all my creature mass removal. I am able to stall for a while with Token and Snapcaster tricks but I'm too low by the time his Burning Vengeance comes online and he finishes me off.

GAME 3: This game is a very heavy control game that gets just out of hand. We are countering anything and everything. Back and forth with Negates, Dissipates and Mana Leaks. I get Spellskite early which helps with Token tapping tricks and Burning Vengeance triggers. I am able to over run him with my Tokens, Snapcasters and I stick a Sword. I get him extremely low and just fucking misplay like a motherfucker. I have another Spellskite in my hand but am playing around Day of Judgement, which I saw from him in the previous game. I don't want to overcommit to the board but had I played the second Spellskite I could have splitting up his two Burning Vengeance triggers between the pair of Skites and left them both out to do work. Because of this huge misplay he is able to kill the first Skite, I play the second and he repeats the process. After the Skites are out of the way I play a Snapcaster for a Midnight Haunting to try and over run him. His tricks are too great. I get him to 1 life and he sits there digging for outs as I draw nothing but land for a million turns. We do get into a counter battle over Snapcaster  which he wins but that's all I have. He eventually uses three Flashback spells over three turns to bury my life in a gazillion Burning Vengeance triggers.

This was a very well fought battle and he deserved to win. After this game I realize that my deck has some problems beyond the mid-game because there isn't enough spells to dig and there isn't enough threats. 2 Titans and 2 Geists just isn't enough. This will cause me to really change my deck up.

The other epiphany I gleaned from this match was that Burning Vengeance is legit. I actually have a UR Vengeance deck because I didn't like the 3 colored version. But Felix's white splash for 4 of Geist, the tap spell and Day of Judgements is very good. I may try this build out since mine Vengeance deck needs a lot of tweaking.

1-2 / 4-4

ROUND 4: Tylor playing BG Pod
GAME 1: Tylor is a good kid and despite his very comedic and humorous guise he puts on during game play, he is a very solid player. I've played him before and he plays very tight and sees a lot of angles in a game. His Pod deck gets rolling early and he drops a Thrun which fucks my world. But for some reason he can't get Pod online, I countered one and O-Ringed the other. I eventually use Gideon to steal temp and Geist to close it out.

GAME 2: This game is similar to the previous game. He does get an early Beast Within on my land but I use it to beat him down pretty low. In combination to all his use of Phyrexian Mana he kind of in trouble. I get some Timely Reinforcement dudes to buy some time. He uses Skinrender to kill one and I O-Ring the Skinrender. Tylor sticks Thurn but Pods it for Slime to hit my O-Ring to release Skinrender and kills my last token. I play Geist and he Pods slime for Massacre Wurm. FML. I Day of Judgement. He draws and passes. I play Sun Titan and get back Geist. At 4 life he topdecks a Grave Titan and runs it out in hopes that I'm a terrible player and forget that Geist's 4/4 Angel token has flying. Admittedly I'm a horrible fucking player but I do not forget and win on the next crackback.

2-2 / 6-4

I ended up 500 which is fine with me. The matches I lost I played my fucking heart out but just mad slightly poor decisions on the decision tree that cost me both my game threes. I realize that I just do not play enough and my skills have very much waned over the last year. The last few years in Chicago I was probably playing the best Magic I have since I took down a PTQ a decade ago. I may not be the best player but I know how to play well. If I played with a group consistently I'd probably be a lot better. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying I'm not as good as I once was.

Quick aside...this is just a fucking game right? Why do these fucking douchebags talk shit to complete and total strangers. During my last round the dude sitting next to Tylor, a friend of Tylors, was watching our game and just talking some shit about my play, e.g. not tapping Gideon when I swung in, saying Snapcaster for a Midnight Haunting is a bad play, etc. At one point I'm just like, "Dude, I don't know you," and gave him this pissed off glare. He shut up after that. This guy was just having fun with Tylor because they are friends but he just came off as a huge fucking dick-bag and I didn't appreciate it. Like he is all high and mighty about Magic because he plays a lot of FNMs. Until you fucking win a Pro Tour  you ain't shit. Its just FNM. Don't be a douchebag. Just have fun and don't take it so seriously. Nobody like a critic especially when unsolicited. Just don't do it and not during someone else's gameplay. Ass.

Rant over.

I will tweak the shit out of the deck and see how it rolls next time.

Peace out my ninjas.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stop playing bad decks...right.

Sage old advice for a seasoned tournament player.

I took a supposed "good" deck to the last week FNM and my run goods ran out.

Little back story before my report. I haven't played in a very long time. Since before Innistrad was even prereleased I took BR Vampires on a good run before they rotated. I didn't give a very detailed report (mainly because nobody reads this shit) but I think I went 4-1 or something to that effect. I've been brewing for weeks now that Innistrad has been out but haven't played due to whatever reason, mostly that life is more important then cards. I currently have built 6 Type 2 decks and at least 2 of them are very good. I chose to play one of the bad ones.

Contagion Clasp x 3
Lashwrithe x 4
Phyrexian Crusader x 4
Plague Stinger x 4
Whispering Specter x 4
Dismember x 1
Go for the Throat x 2
Doom Blade x 2
Virulent Wound x 2
Skithiryx the Blight Dragon x 2
Despise x 3
Tezzeret's Gambit x 4
Inkmoth Nexus x 4
Swamps x 21

Black Sun's Zenith x 3
Spellskite x 2
Surgical Extraction x 3
Ni-Hil Spellbomb x 4
Phyrexian Vatmother x 3

The deck has been modified based on how I felt it would play out. Plenty of lists made Top 8s at States tournaments last weekend and a few articles have been written. I was semi-sold enough to build it and play it.

Infect is a strategy that basically cuts your opponent in half before you even roll the dice to see who goes first. You must deal 10 poison counters to victim instead of the usual 20 points of damage. This is good because the deck can come out of nowhere and deliver quick blows. The early iterations of the deck where usually Green and Black and used a multitude of pump spells to make your little infect dudes big enough to make lethal strikes around turn 4. Since rotation, many of the good pump spells have since gone, especially the very excellent pump spell Vines of the Vastwood. This new version forgoes pump and instead is built into a Midrange shell that can come off quickly, depending on draws and matchups or use its disruption, draw and removal to control the board. The addition of Whispering Specter from NPH is a good card that threatens to steal the game once it connects by discarding your opponents entire hand. Inkmoth Nexus is also an all-star because getting that early infect starting Turn 2 is very important. Phyrexian Crusader is amazing mainly due to his protection from red burn spells and his ability to stalk right past Sun Titans. With Lashwrithe and Skithiryx, it gives the deck a chance to sucker punch an unprepared opponent. They don't fear the innocuous 1/1 Plague Stinger late in the game, especially when they are only at 3 infect. They tap out for an alpha strike. You gladly take the damage and on the following turn, drop Lashwrithe, equip it to the Stinger and out of nowhere deal lethal infect FTW. Sounds pretty damn good right?

1. It's an infect deck. The problem with infect, which I've said since it was a huge thing in Scars block, from a play standpoint, is that you are completely ALL-IN on a creature strategy for the most part. You have to connect with little fragile dudes to win the game. This is very bad right now because plenty of decks in the metagame are creature heavy decks with threat dense output, i.e. Wolf Run Ramp, Tempered Steel, Red Deck Wins, Humans, Tokens, etc. This is bad for Infect deck because every deck is packing so much creature removal, spot and mass. Your guys are tiny, yes they have evasion but can't really fight if you need them too. On turn three you're playing Phyrexian Crusader and your opponent is dropping Primeval Titan. That is a bad scenario to be in.
2. It's a midrange deck archetype. I think the very aggro builds in early iterations were much better suited to win because they did so very quickly. Even Brian Kibler's Blue-Black Infect Control deck was very good because it controlled the early game long enough to get Skithiryx to only need to swing in twice for the win. Mono-Black Infect being midrange is bad because your cards are that good at different stages of the game in different matchups. Against an aggro deck, if you survive long enough, drawing a Despise or Distress in the late game is a dead draw. Against a control deck drawing all your removal early is pointless if they play no threats. The deck's three drops just are good enough to compete against the heavy hitters that can come up just as quickly.
3. The deck's guys are just terrible. They are so fragile and weak and you almost always have to be attacking to even have a chance. They can get quickly overran by a swarm of guys they are just no well suited to fight against. I mean c'mon man! The deck packs 8 (sometimes 12 if you count Inkmoth) 1/1 flyers, regardless of the aforementioned evasion, are just terrible.

If I was going to play an Infect strategy I should have just fucking played Brian Kibler's UB Infect Control from last Standard season.


Round 1 vs. Armando and Wolf Run Ramp

Game 1: This is just a horrible matchup because he is playing so much removal. Every guy I bring out is Incinerated or swept away with Slagstorm. When I finally DO get a Phyrexian Crusader out he uses Beast Within on my dude. I do get a beatdown with the token put it is quickly out classed by Inferno Titan and Wurmcoil Engine. I did get him close to death with 8 infect counters using Contagion Clasp but I could out race him once he Green Sunned for Acidic Slime. I had tons of mana and only needed to top deck Skithiryx to win but never saw it even though I dug twice with Tez's Gambit.

My sideboard is very heavy versus aggro strategies and I really expected to see Solar Flare due to the few ringers that are present at FNM. I only sideboard in Spellskites to stop the Kessig Wolf Run targets.

Game 2: Is about the same. I do get a good start but my guys are all cleared. I kill a Birds of Paradise with a Virulent wound and proliferate with Tez's Gambit to get more counters on him. But he ramps so fast and so much while I'm stuck on three lands holding two of my Skithiryx. He starts attacking my mana with Acidic Slimes and I'm done pretty quickly by a Wolf Runned Inferno Titan in one swing.

0-2 / 0-1

Round 2: Brad with Black Green Pod
I get paired up for some reason and play the 1-0 guy. Brad is usually a douchebag that I've lost to before but tonight he was actually a very nice guy.

Game 1: He gets an early Birds into a Turn 2 Birthing Pod. I land a Stinger that he quickly Dismembers. I get Phyrexian Crusader. He outmatches me with Glissa that he soon pods into a Skinrender to kill the Crusader. This game spirals out of control as he kills all my threats with infinite Skinrenders and I do nothing but play lands and blindly Despise into nothing. He curves up to Brutalizer Exarch where he sends Inkmoth Nexus to the bottom of my library and curves to Sheoldred and me with a Doom Blade in my hand and NOT a Go for the Throat. I lose.

Game 2: This game he gets trip Viridian Emissary, ramps into a crazy amount of Acidic Slimes and attacks my lands. I'm stuck on two lands after all the action. I'm holding Skithiryx, two Tez's Gambit, a Lashwrithe and Phyrexian Crusader while I die.

0-4 / 0-2

Round 3: John playing Black Green Pod
I get paired up again with a 1-1 instead of another 0-2. John is a very harsh type of personality. He plays so angry and shows it. When he runs bad he beats himself up big time. I've played him plenty of times before and beat him every time. The moment I sat down he had this look on his face like, "Fuck me."

Game 1: I Despise him and see Swamps, a Phyrexian Rager, Pod and green dudes. I take the Rager. He doesn't hit a forest for a while as I start infecting him. I get a Specter and rob his hand a turn later. He scoops after that. He is very pissed off.

Game 2: He sides in tons of cards as we go under way. This game goes bad for me as he attacks my lands with Acidic Slimes and Brutalizer Exarch. I don't get anything going as I hold all my kill cards in hand.

Game 3: This game comes down to him making a huge play mistake. I land a Phyrexian Crusader and Plague Stinger. I Despised him turn 1 and saw a Go for the Throat. I ran out Crusader to see what he would do. Instead he plays a Viridian Emissary and Birthing Pod and taps out. I casually play Lashwrithe, equip to my Stinger and swing for the win. He told me afterwards he thought I had the Lashwrithe but tapped out to maximize his mana. He probably should have followed his gut.

2-4 / 1-2

Round 4: Unknown with BR Vampires

This dude is a new player that literally just got in with Innistrad. Nice of enough guy but I steam rolled him two games in a row since he never made blocks nor killed my relevant dudes. It wasn't a fun win But despite my shitty showing for the evening, I'll take it.

We play casually and he actually defeats my UW Ghost-Blade deck that I've been playing in between rounds the entire night.

4-4 / 2-2

Round 5: Unknown with Weenie White Metalcraft

Being in the losers bracket isn't much fun as I get paired down with a 1-3. This kid has been playing since Mirrodin but really just casually. He just bought some Scars Block pre-cons, threw them together and called it a deck.

Needless to say, I rolled this kid over too, even mulling to 5 and to 6 in my two games. He did the same thing as the last guy, did not assign any blocking and didn't use removal and relevant dudes.

I helped him tweak his deck and gave him some extras. I mainly tuned his deck to be a White Weenie Battle-Cry aggro deck instead of a Metalcraft piece of jank. I hope he continues to come back and gets better because we could use some new people at the shop.

6-4 / 3-2

Despite a winning record I pretty much hate the fucking Mono-Black Infect deck. Regardless of any Top 8 finishes at SCG Opens or States, I chuck up all those wins to lucky run goods. The deck lacks reach and is just not suited to fight the aggro and removal heavy metagame.

In hindsight I really should have trusted my gut and played UW Ghost-Blade. Although I'm good at playing almost any deck, I'm much better suited to control (although I actually prefer aggro strategies). I did get a chance to play Ghost-Blade a ton. I did fairly well against Wolf Run Red and Birthing Pod decks. I like the deck because of the main deck Day of Judgements but I'll probably up that to 3 in the main. I also need to find a better spot removal spell then Dismember. As good as the card is, it is useless versus a Titan deck. We'll see. I wish there was a Swords type spell for White.

I also had a chance to play Burning Vengeance, which was total Jank. But with some tweaks, we'll see.

Deck building for the next FNM will occur. I will mos def build GW Aggro, RG Wolf Run, GB Pod and possible Mono-Black and Mono-Red control decks.

Until next time.