Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I've been in FloRida for a little over three months and I finally got a chance to go home, even for a short while. The reason for the epic return? My boy was getting MARRIED!!!!

My dude, Kevin, was actually my best man at my wedding and sort of shared duties with my favorite cousin, Jeff (who I'll get too as well). But I have to say, other then my own wedding, Kev and Karen's wedding was the best wedding I've been to. Ironically, the other "best" wedding I've been was Remy's in LA.

I'll just get into it...

Why was this trip extra special? It was a few fold actually. Obviously my friend getting married is one of the main reasons. Another reason is being able to see all my other friends that I left back home in Chicago. I also got to see my family that remains back home. Phoenix got to see his grandparents and play with his other friends. AND lastly, we got to enjoy Chicago.

I so miss Chicago.

Just when I was getting used to Florida, we take a trip home and I so miss Chicago all over again.

I miss Chicago.

But I'm loving Florida now too.

So, wow...Kevin got married. For those of you who don't know Kevin. I'm sure that's everybody. Kevin is one of my childhood friends. We grew up together and formed that friendship that will last a lifetime I hope. He is an amazing friend and I'm so happy he was able to find his soulmate. And soulmate Karen is. Karen is a female version of Kevin. That's probably they fit so well together. During the wedding I gave an impromptu toast to represent our childhood group of friends. I was so drunk my hands were shaking and I spilled most of the rum in my glass. Anyways, I toasted about a lot of things apparently. Nobody has really said anything about it, probably because I was so hammered. But, earlier in the weekend, after the rehearsal dinner, my wife probably summed up Kevin and Karen best, "They are different enought to make life interesting yet so similar to make it last a lifetime." To me, that is a beautiful line and I really wish I was so fucking drunk to fumble it all, quotes, toasts, my drink and all. But it doesn't matter. If I'm not getting drunk to honor one of my best friends, then I'm doing something wrong.

Cheers to Kevin and Karen! Love you guys and I'm so happy.

Oh yeah, there wedding was so interesting because it was at a joint called Salvage One, an old antique furniture store in Chicago. It was just so perfect for them and totally exemplifies their personalities.


As for seeing our friends...

All my friends that I grew up with are just about the awesomest people in the entire fucking world. I'd gladly take a bat to a dude's head if they asked me to. But, just being away for a while and seeing everybody just reminded me of how awesome they all are and how much I miss them. The epic hangover I had the next day was worth every minute hanging out with them. I hope we get a chance to see them soon. I keep telling them to plan a group trip here to Florida so we can explore some beaches and hit up Disney World. It'll be fun!

The wedding was the main reason we went but seeing family and friends outside of the wedding was important too.

Our best friends out in Naperville were awesome enough to let us crash with them, pick us up and drop us off at the airport and let us borrow their badass Acura MDX for the weekend. Bestest friends ever. And, they have three amazing kids that love hanging out with Phoneix. Cheers to the Flowers clan for letting us drunkards chill with them. Unfortunately their kids were a little sick so Phoenix got a cough, fever and sniffle. Nothing a little Florida sun and humidity won't clear up in short order.

We also had a chance to see my cousins and uncle. Of course we met at an all you can eat buffet. The food was amazing and I wish I could take my hangover back so I could've enjoyed the food more. But, my cousin Jeff, who I love like my own brother, is now married, shotgun shotgun, and his wife as a bun in the oven. I'm very happy for them because being a father I wouldn't trade for the entire world. But I am a little disappointed. I don't really want to say more then that. I do love them but...

Eh. I'm done for now.

Chicago in a nutshell:
White Castle
Chinatown's Evergreen
Chinatown's Happy Chef
Buffalo Joe's
Joy Yee

Yeah...I'm a fatty and love every minute of it.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Another Look at Standard

For some reason I can't get away from playing Mono-Red in tournaments. I think if a Legacy tournament was happening I'd rock Legacy Burn because you basically only need 7 business spells to win the game.

Before I put Red to bed (see what I did there?) I want to take a look at a Type 2 Red deck that I might rock at another FNM or just for fun.


Creatures: 20
Goblin Guide x 4
Ember Hauler x 4
Spikeshot Elder x 4
Goblin Chieftan x 4
Goblin Bushwhacker x 4

Spells: 16
Lightning Bolt x 4
Arc Trail x 4
Searing Blaze x 4
Staggershock x 3

Planeswalkers: 2
Koth of the Hammer x 2

Lands: 23
Arid Mesa x 4
Scalding Tarn x 4
Mountains x 15

Sideboard: 15
Manic Vandal x 4
Brittle Effigy x 3
Ratchet Bomb x 4
Goblin Ruinblaster x 4

Yeah yeah yeah. Before you laugh I think a deck like this can be fun! Goblins. Beat face. More Goblins. Burn. Burn! BURN!!!

The interesting thing with his deck is its reach. Like old school Time Spiral Block RDW or even older school RDW, those decks used Magus of the Scroll, Cursed Scroll or Grim Lavamancer for mid-to-late game reach. This deck uses Spiketail Elder to get those last few points in the mid-to-late game. The Elder is a better version of Brothers of Fire from the Dark set. a 3cc 2/2 that for 1RR: Deal 1 damage to target creature or player and 1 damage to yourself. Elder has the same activation, lesser CC and no drawback. He, like Magus of Scroll or Lavamancer, before him help the deck get there in the end. Mixed with Chieftan, the Elder becomes sick. And then there is Koth, the best card from Scars. Not much needs to be said. Koth wins games all by himself.

And good old Goblin Guide has always been that guy that gets in those early points of damage that begin to add up by turn 3 or 4 when he is finally dealt with. At first I didn't like GG because he gave opponents an advantage. Boy, was I wrong. It wasn't until I started playing him did I understand how money GG truly is.

The other obvious theme is the deck is a Tribal deck and uses Goblin Chieftan as a win condition. Early turns you drop GGs, Elders and Haulers, then Bushwhack. On the following turn play Chieftan and beat face. He can be that surprise factor that throws people off with the math. If you have a few goblins out it isn't as threatening but when they get amped up +1/+1 out of nowhere it can be scary.

That's the last time I bring up Red Deck Wins or Goblins.

Right now, a lot of people are finding ways to build around new and exciting Scars cards. That makes sense. That's what we are supposed to do with the game. The problem with competitive Magic is that every season there are Tier 1 decks that make up 75% of the field, some buster Tier 2 decks, Fringe decks and whack Rogue decks that make up the rest. Historically speaking, the decks that dominate for the most part are usually in the Holy Trinity of deck building with a possible 4th archetype. Aggro. Combo. Control. Midrange. I usually try to stay away from getting too Johnny if I really want to compete and play all Spike with decks that fit the Magic Deck Trifecta (and Midrange).

Going back to the last few seasons the dominate decks were as follows:
Jund, Mythic, Dredgevine, Superfriends, Valakut, Polymorph, Red Deck Wins, Boss Naya, Bant, BW Tokens, Boat Brew, 5cc Control (Quick n' Toast), 4cc Cascade, Faeries, Elves, Merfolk, Lark Combo, Mannequin, Doran Rock, Teachings Control, Gruul, Dragonstorm, RG Snow, Boros etc.

All the decks listed are tournament winning decks in some way shape or form and are battled tested. My point is that as seasons go along, players mimic the pro competitors and end up playing some variation of what is already popular and works. Trying to be all Johnny is fantastic for deckbuilders but end up being not-so-competitive and won't get too far.

That's why when new sets drop and rotations happen, I try to stick with what works: Aggro, Combo or Control and sometimes Midrange. Usually, I run away and go play Extended, Legacy or Casual but that's a whole other topic (which I do believe I blogged about...Thopter Affinity anyone?).

I want to take a look at a few builds that fit into the main archetypes and can hopefully be competitive. I will not post a Combo deck only because true "combo" decks haven't existed in Standard since Lark decks I think. Cunning Sparkmage and Basilik Collar is a combo but I don't consider it a combo deck. Sovereigns of Alara into Eldrazi Conscriptions is a combo but I don't consider it a combo deck. Dragonstorm is a combo deck. TEPS is a combo deck. Hulk Flash is a combo deck. Cascade Swans is a combo deck. Without getting into to many archetype hybridizations, you get my point...

I guess the only true combo deck that exists in Standard is Mass Polymorph decks. Regular Polymorph decks were a Combo/Control hybrid that I fear isn't as good in it's new inception due to Mass Polymorph being 6cc and needing multiple tokens to combo off of.

I'll take a look at Aggro decks first.

GR Metalcraft:

Carapice Forger x 4
Ezuri's Brigade x 4
Menmite x 4
Ornithopter x 4
Obstinate Baloth x 4
Darksteel Axe x 4
Ratchet Bomb x 3
Sword of Vengance x 1
Galvanic Blast x 4
Lightning Bolt x 4
Copperline Thicket x 4
Raging Ravine x 4
Rootbound Crag x 4
Mountians x 4
Forests x 4

This is your stock aggro deck for the new rotation. Metalcraft is sort of a poor man's Threshold. It is sometimes difficult to hold Metalcraft due to the artifact hate that is relevant in the format. But, as an aggro deck, hitting Metalcraft should happen fairly quickly. With the 8-pack of 0ccs, cheap equipments and the new powder keg, 16 artifacts is enough to get going. The deck really wants to abuse the Forger and Brigade. By hitting early Metalcraft, dropping turn 2 or 3 4/4s is pretty good. Dropping a turn 4 8/8 Trampler is even better. Baloth is here to stick a fat body and create a 2-3 for 1 creature.

Another look at the deck:

GR Metalcraft:

Carapice Forger x 4
Ezuri's Brigade x 4
Menmite x 4
Ornithopter x 4
Steel Overseer x 4
Lodestone Golem x 4
Darksteel Axe x 4
Ratchet Bomb x 3
Sword of Vengance x 1
Galvanic Blast x 4
Copperline Thicket x 4
Raging Ravine x 4
Rootbound Crag x 4
Mountians x 4
Forests x 4

Here is another look at the Metalcraft deck that uses Steel Overseer with the quick drops and Lodestone Golems to slow down opponents not playing artifacts.

Mono-Black/r Ooze:
Skinrender x 4
Gatekeeper of Malakir x 4
Nantuko Shade x 4
Necrotic Ooze x 4
Grul Draz Assassin x 2
Vampire Hexmage x 3
Mind Rot x 2
Sign in Blood x 4
Duress x 3
Inquisition of Kozilek x 1
Doomblade x 3
Consuming Vapors x 2
Swamps x 10
Tectonic Edge x 1
Darkshore Slick x 4
Drowned Catacombs x 4
Creeping Tarpits x 4

Consuming Vapors x 2
Doomblade x 1
Flashfreeze x 4
Deathmark x 4
Ratchet Bomb x 4

This is a deck I'd like to try out. I think it could do some damage. This is a Mono-Black Aggro deck that can act Mid-Range and play the role of control when up against an aggro deck with a better clock. It has early drops in Draz Assassin, Shades and Hexmages. It has some disruption and removal. The reason for building the deck is the slew of 2-for-1s that it is packing. Skinrender and Gatekeeper both eat a guy and can fight. I love Skinrender because it is the closest thing to a Shriekmaw or Flametongue Kavu Standard has had since the Maw left. Sign in Blood digs you deeper. Consuming Vapors will hopefully hit two dudes and get you life back.

The real bomb in the deck is Necrotic Ooze mixed with the activated abilities dudes in the deck. He can get pumped like Nantuko Shade (the most underrated reprint ever), Grul Draz Assassin and Vampire Hexmage. Most of these creatures will be binned by the time Ooze hits so he gets some value.

The only reason I want to run blue is for the Creeping Tarpits 3/2 ability to hit Planeswalkers out of nowhere. I like redundancy and dudes that survive DoJ.

Anyways...we'll build and see how they go. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Phoenix Force GO!!!

"Use the Force Luke!" - Obi Wan Kenobi, Star Wars

Type 2 yet again...

Since I didn't have a chance to mess with my decks that much prior to last Friday's FNM I figure I'll give it the old college try once more.

Here is what I think could do pretty decent...

Phoenix Force Go!!!

Creatures: 5
Kuldotha Phoenix x 4
Wurmcoil Engine x 1

Artifacts: 15
Chimeric Mass x 4
Everflowing Chalice x 4
Ratchet Bomb x 2
Brittle Effigy x 1
Crystal Ball x 3
Culling Dias x 1

Sorceries: 17
Destructive Force x 4
All is Dust x 3
Cultivate x 4
Explore x 4
Growth Spasm x 2

Lands: 23
Raging Ravine x 4
Rootbound Crag x 4
Terramorphic Expanse x 3
Forests x 6
Mountains x 6

Sideboard: 15
Acidic Slime x 2
Slice in Twain x 3
Pyroclasm x 4
Comet Storm x 3
Manic Vandal x 3

A few blogs ago I mentioned how much I love Kuldotha Phoenix. Since I never had a chance to build that previous Metalcraft RDW, I figure to shift that idea over to this deck.

This deck is obviously a Destructive Force Ramp deck that uses a different win condition other then Titans and Avenger of Zenidikars since I have none of either.

The basic strategy:

Phase One: Ramp early lands and accelerate.
Phase Two: Develop and Protect your board. Stick a Chimeric Mass
Phase Three: Destructive Force and beat face with Chimeric Mass

Sounds easy but I don't think it will be.

After checking States lists, Valakut Ramp is still the Top Deck with UWx Control Decks and some UB Control decks rearing their ugly heads.

So why is Phoenix Force better then Valakut Ramp? Valakut is money because you are basically killing your opponent with irrelevant spells for the most part. I mean, who really wants to Mana Leak a Cultivate when you can counter a Primeveal Titan? Every game I've played against Valakut I've lost to the namesake card but off the back of a Cultivate or Explore. Never an actual threat.

Back to the question. Why is Phoenix Force better then Valakut Ramp? It kills Valakut. If you can out ramp them early and get a Destructive Force off before Titan drops, you win that game. Before dropping the Force, you want to be able to stick early artifacts and ramp into a 5/5 or 6/6 Mass. Post-Force you can begin the beatings only needing one available mana, which probably comes off of Everflowing Chalice. If you don't stick the Mass, your ramp spells become more relevant because you are racing to hit metal craft or stick a Mass. Metalcraft here is key because you can start beating with Phoenix out of the grave. Those are the main keys to victory.

I'll explain the card choices.

Destructive Force is the closest thing in the new Scars Standard to Cruel Ultimatum. Automatically it's a 5-for-1 and if they have dudes, you gain even more value. Played in this deck, you get extra value off of cards that are normally sub-par.

Obviously Phoenix and Chimeric Mass are your roads to victory. I can't say enough how much I think this Phoenix is one of the better Phoenix's printed. Metalcraft isn't that difficult to hit. Renewable threats are amazing. Haste and evasion are no joke either. My only concern is the during upkeep only of the resurrection. Chimeric Mass, for some reason to me, is an amazing artifact. I just feel it is so flexible, can drop early and block, start early beats as a 2/2 or 3/3 or fight later on as a 6/6 or 7/7. The biggest thing for me is that Mass survives DoJs, All is Dust and the name sake card, Destructive Force. Combo'd with Force, Mass becomes a house. Wurmcoil Engine x 1 if just funny to me. Wurmcoil should probably a 3-of but I need to get more. This creature is money yet beatable. It eats most creatures and gives you insane value when it fights Titans. I think I need 2 more.

Ramp spells are also obvious. I'm normally opposed to Ramp decks after reading an amazing article by PVDR on Channelfireball.com. He basically says that Ramp decks pose the issue of bad draws. You put yourself in bad positions a lot of the time because you can draw all your ramp and no action spells or all your business spells and no ramp. But I digress. Even if I draw all action spells, the curve is nice enough to not need the ramp and I can go midrange either being the beatdown by playing early Masses or being the control. If things get hectic I just toss Phoenix in the grave during discard so he can fight again.

Everflowing Chalice is key because you can stick a 2 or 3 counter Chalice and be in better shape to a faster Force and amazing shape post Force. Plus it helps reach Metalcraft.

Ratchet Bomb also helps achieve Metalcraft. It's main function is to fight aggro decks. It creates a situation for the beatdown player to over commit to the board and walk right into a Destructive Force. When that happens, I just 8-for-1'd my opponent.

Brittle Effigy is a 1-of for Metalcraft and to prevent my opponent from trying to hit that Titan. If I turn 1 an Effigy it changes how they play their game. They need at least two Titans, one to draw the Effigy and another after the Effigy is used.

Crystal Ball is key to the deck for a few reasons. First, obviously it activates Metalcraft and is unlikely to be targeted for hate. Second, it helps reach a Force faster by hitting lands and ramp as well as getting yourself out of trouble post-Force. At first glance Crystal Ball isn't really that good compared to say, Jace the Mind Sculptor, that's obvious. But in a deck that can't run a third color, let alone double blue, the Ball fits in just perfectly. Back in the day when I played Type 2, us older dudes know Standard as Type 2, Ernageddon and Ernham Burn'em decks were amazing. A key card to both of those decks was Sylvan Library. For you youngsters, Sylvan Library was a 2cc green enchantment that let you draw two additional cards and put them back on top of your library in any order. You could pay 4 life a card to draw any of the extra cards. In the two aforementioned decks, each had a lock out strategy, GW Ernageddon used Armageddon and Ernham Burn'em used Jokulhaups (sp?), to lock their opponents out and to get ahead. Post blowing up the board, Sylvan Library would help to dig out of the hole and get better board position. Crystal Ball plays the similar role. If I can ramp, stick a Ball and then Force, hopefully killing all their dudes and land, I can get ahead and win the race.

The last artifact, that is a 1-of, is Culling Dias. I think this card can be the tits with a renewable creature like say, Kuldotha Phoenix, to keep sacrificing and bringing back. Say I stick a Dias and ramp to a hasty Phoenix. They have a Plains up and I make them for Condemn. I attack anyways. They go to Condemn my Firebird and I sack to the Dias. I gain a counter and I bring Firebird back next turn. Maybe next time they have a Journey to Nowhere on their turn. I sack to the Dias and bring back the 4/4. Let's say they stick a Baneslayer and swing. I block with my Bird and sac. They gain no life. I Force and then bring back my 4/4. At some point, post-Force, I need cards. I sack the Dias and Ancestral Recall. Not bad if it comes to that.

The last card to discuss maindeck is All is Dust. This is basically a reset button if things get out of hand with creatures and planeswalkers and I'm not ready to use the Force. If my opponent over commits then All is Dust is amazing. Only issue is it doesn't hit Artifact dudes or Eldrazi so that may be an issue as a 3-of, especially if I hit a big casting cost hand and no ramp.

Sideboard is thrown together right now and think it out better another time.

But I'd love to get testing as soon as I can, well, as soon as I get back from Chicago and if I have time. Until next time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday Night Magic

"If football is a religion then Friday is a day of worship." Not sure whose quote this is but I think it opened the movie Friday Night Lights, a great film by Peter Berg, about the importance of football to a small Texas town.

I bring it up because last Friday I went to the Lakeland comicbook store to check out Friday Night Magic. There were almost 30 people there. That's huge for a smaller venue and town. FNMs back home in Chicago, upwards to 80 people, two tournaments, usually Standard and Limited. I guess Magic is becoming a religion to some folks and Friday is a day of Worship (pun intended :D).

Five rounds of Standard play is pretty tough, you usually have to win out early to get close to packing. This did not happen for me.

Before I get to my whack decklist and FNM quickie report a little backstory to the week.

I've been extremely stressed out at work after my co-worker quit and she hasn't been replaced. That was three weeks ago. I'm basically doing two jobs for one. So finding a new job has been the highest priority for me. As well as my family. I love spending time with my son and wife. And we love to explore Florida since it is so new to us. That being said, Magic has fallen by the wayside for me. But I was jonesing big-time. I was fiending. I was like a smoker who quit cold turkey going on three days. I need to play. I needed my fix. So I made plans to do so.

The early stress began the week before when some big projects rolled into my department. And trying to send out resumes and finally getting my website designed has taken its toll. I never really touched my decks enough to build what I really wanted to build. And I played last Wednesday with Mike in order to test. But the testing wasn't good for me since the outcome was, I still had no deck for Friday. Needless to say I tried to relax and have fun with Magic, one of my greatest pastimes (another pun).

It wasn't relaxing at all.

I blogged about a new Metalcraft Red Deck Wins a week or so ago. I actually traded up for all the cards I needed for the deck. But I didn't run it because I never had ample time to put my deck together. I basically tweaked an existing Red Deck Wins from previous Standard to Scars Standard.

Here is the decklist:

Goblin Guide x 4
Ember Hauler x 4
Plated Geopede x 4
Elemental Appeal x 4
Zektar Shrine Expedition x 4
Lightning Bolt x 4
Searing Blaze x 4
Staggershock x 4
Arc Trail x 4
Arid Mesa x 4
Scalding Tarn x 4
Terramorphic x 2
Mountains x 14

Cunning Sparkmage x 4
Goblin Ruinblaster x 4
Basilisk Collar x 3
Tectonic Edge x 2
Forked Bolt x 2

Explanations of the deck are as follows: Its a piece of crap. It lost EVERYTHING in the rotation and I cried a little on the inside, every game. AND the only addition from Scars was Arc Trail x 4. Arc Trail is the best 2-for-1 in the deck. It does its job to gain an advantage. Anyways, it does have some explosive starts, which I'll get into with a brief report.

The sideboard was garbage and I thought of only playing against Tier 1 decks, which I never played against. One problem with rotation is that everyone is playing something different. The other problem is that at an FNM, not a PTQ, people play rogue decks like crazy. So it is hard to board in every match up.

Round 1: David (I think) with UW Mimic Vat
Game 1: I get Goblin Guide and beat face. He gets land that helps him a ton. He rips Wall of Omens. Damn. I swing with GG, he blocks and I toss an Arc Trail at the wall and a point at him. I play a Shrine and landfall once. He plays a white deer SOM card that blinks my Shrine. I lose the counter. He plays Mimic Vat and starts blinking my stuff with the white deer. Gideon comes down for him. He stabilizes and I lose big time.

I board in 13 cards. Sparkmage combo and land destruction.

Game 2: I GG turn 1 again. He is stuck on land for a while. I kick a Ruinblaster and kill a Colonnade. I stick a Tec Edge and blow up a Glacial Fortress. He sticks Kor Firewalker x 2. I think I can Sparkmage race him but it doesn't happen. Wurmcoil Engine and Mimic Vat is dumb good. He sticks a Venser and I scoop. Damn.


Round 2: Albert (I think, newbie compared to me :\ ) with Midrange Kor Equip deck (VERY budget)
Game 1: I go Goblin Guide swing. He goes Kor. I go Geopede and swing. He doesn't block. He goes Kor again and passes. I go Arc Trail both your dudes. Double landfall and beat with the team. He goes equipment and passes. I go double Landfall and Elemental Appeal for lethal.

What possesses me to side in Sparkmage I have no idea.

Game 2: I get a Shrine going and Sparkmage combo early. I kill all his dudes. He gets extremely low on life and stabilizes with a Day of Judgement then sticks Conqueror's Pledge. Damn. He's at one and has taken two turns to beat me down to 8 then sticks a Armament Master (if he's equipped your dudes get +2/+2 I think). It comes down to me needing to rip 1 of 16 burn spells or an Elemental Appeal after drawing nothing but land for 3 turns. He's at 3 life. I slam the card down and its a Cunning Sparkmage. I lose. Damn.

Game 3: I go first and set up Shrines and kill his guys with all my burn so my GGs and Geopede can go the distance. He DoJs and I'm behind again. I stick a Sparkmage with Collar out and he takes a Journey to Nowhere. I do the math and begin doming him with my burn. He goes down to 2 life. I'm in top deck mode. He still has half a grip and drops 6 soldiers and commences the beating. I draw nothing but land again but hold onto it in case I need to landfall with Searing Blaze or load up a Shrine. It comes down to me needing 1 of 16 burn spells. I draw and slam down the land and lose again.


He wasn't the strongest player but it definitely shows how weak Red Deck Wins has became. I think I played it right but just didn't have that jump that old Standard RDW gets. I regret not playing something else. I don't scoop though and continue playing.

Round 3: I play Albert's brother Russell who commented the picture of my brother in my binder looked like Barack Obama. I wasn't mad definitely wanted him to cry.
Game 1: He plays some discard stuff with the new 2cc Megrim in play. I get down to about 14 by the time I dropped tons of burn on his face and beat him with 7/1 Hasty Tramplers.

Game 2: See previous game.

Russell is a nice guy and we spend the last 45 minutes of the round (yes, I 2-0'd him in 5 minutes. No joke. Even Edward, the judge, was like, "Damn!") playing for fun. I wreck him with Mass Polymorph but to be honest his deck doesn't really do anything. He has no bombs to make a mid-to-late game impact. Grave Titan or Wurmcoil Engine should be in his deck. Consume Spirit as a finisher as well. I told him my thoughts.

Round 4: Some Noob playing Green/Black Infect (no sleeves and his deck is as tall as mine)
Game 1: He gets stuck on two forests and plays some equipment. I go GG, Geopede, Shrine and swing for lethal by turn 4.

I side in nothing because I really don't know what he is playing.

Game 2: He gets some equipment and infect guys that I 2-for-1 with Arc Trail. The game goes pretty fast and I'm 2-2 in five minutes.

We spend the rest of the round (another 40 minutes) playing for fun. I wreck him with Mono-Green Aggro and Mono-Blue Metalcraft. He plays his "Legacy" Merfolk and I play my LEGACY Affinity that I blogged about. I never have to get the Thopter combo to win. He just doesn't block my relevant dudes and dies. We play 6 more games before the round is finally over.

Last Round 5: John (I think. I really need to remember these guys' names) playing Mono-White Metal. I traded him 1 of my extra Steel Overseers and a new art Swords to Plowshares for a Ratchet Bomb earlier. So the running joke of the round was him saying he'd kill me with my own Overseer.
Game 1: He drops 0cc dudes and Glint Hawk. The new best turn 1 in Standard. I GG swing and give him no land. He plays double Steel Overseer, which are his bombs. I 2-for-1 with Arc Trail (best card in SOM). That signals phase 3 of the game where I beat him down while he has no removal.

Game 2: This game get ridiculous. He gets early artifact dudes and a Tempered Steel but has only a Glint Hawk as I proceed to destroy all his guys. All the while I have two Shrines with a landfall counter each. I want to slow roll the Shrines while I hold onto an Arid Mesa and Elemental Appeal. I kill his dude, drop my Mesa, double landfall, make two 7/1s and then cast the Appeal for the third. He takes 21 damage by turn 4.

We spend the last part of the round (another 35 minutes) playing fun games. I rocked my Mono-Blue Metalcraft and won two games I had no business winning. Very nice guy and I wish him the best at States that is going on today.

3-2 by the end of the night. I'm just happy to have a winning record although it is against lesser opponents. I did have a lot of fun and traded away bombs I wasn't using for tons of cards I will use. I did get my fourth blackbordered Mishra's Factory too!

Next time I just have to be more prepared. After States we'll have a better idea of what the Tier 1 decks are and what the metagame is.

I don't know when the next time I will play FNM. But I had a great time despite a horrible start.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The new Standard

I've been dreading the day Scars of Mirrodin becomes Standard legal and my beloved Shards of Alara block rotates out. Of course, I said the same thing when Time Spiral block rotated and Lorwyn/Shadowmoor rotated. But I mean it this time. I mean it because before, when TSP and LWN/SDM rotated I just dove head first into Extended and building casual builds. That is when I thrived as a deckbuilder. I was able to become more Johnny then Spike and had tons of fun with the Westwood College playgroup (new and old).

Alas, I am without a playgroup here in Central Florida. The four places I did find (3 of them are almost an hour drive each) all rock Standard for the most part. And I hear plenty of talk of EDH nights. I shudder to think. Gah!

Back to Standard...

So, not really sure what to build. I know I have to take apart what I have and modify decks that are close to Standard already. Historically I will probably start with the basics: RDWs, White Weenie, MUC, UW Control and MGA.

RDWs loses so much in the rotation, it will be difficult to see what is it made up of after Shards block leaves. I basically lost it's heart and soul with Ball Lightning, Hellspark Elemental, Hell's Thunder and Earthquake. Without the hastiness of the aforementioned, it will be difficult for RDWs to actually be called Red Deck Wins. It still has Goblin Guide, the best turn 1 in Standard, and a bunch of good burn spells to dome dude's with: Lightning Bolt, Burst Lightning, Searing Blaze and Staggershock. My guess is any Mono-Red Deck in the new Standard is going to need Koth of the Hammer x 4 to be even remotely competitive. That seriously pisses me off, the whole, "gotta have Mythic Rares in all the Tier 1 decks," thing that has become Standard Magic. The cool thing about previous Standard was RDW had a bunch of commons and uncommons and a few rares to operate. Many lists did run Kargan Dragonlord but he is $10-$15 at best, which still isn't great. But it beats the $50-60 Koth is selling at. WTF? The other cool deck was Jund, basically a Block deck that ran NO Mythics (some ran Sarkhan the Mad). But having to run Jace the Mind Sculptor in anything with blue mana is disgusting and WOTC should be ashamed of themselves. They make it difficult for young players or players without a bankroll or real-life responsibilities, hard to compete. Back in my heyday $10 for a Rishadan Port or Masticore wasn't all that bad to play Standard and there were always possibilities for budget decks. These days there really isn't any slack for decks that don't run Mythics. I may eat my words but I bet the Top 8 at most upcoming States and at Worlds will have S#!t-tons of Mythic Rares in their decklists.

Back to RDWs...the deck is probably dead. I think I want to go a more creature type Red Beatdown deck reminiscent of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor Standard with Demigod of Revenge hitting the up-curve and slew of 1-3 drops mudding the field prior.

Goblin Guide x 4
Ember Hauler x 4
Vulshok Replica x 4
Chimeric Mass x 4
Perilous Myr x 4
Kuldotha Phoenix x 4

Lightning Bolt x 4
Arc Trail x 4
Galvantic Blast x 4

Tettering Peaks x 4
Tectonic Edge x 2
Mountains x 18

Combust x 4
Manic Vandal x 4
Forked Bolt x 3
Goblin Ruinblaster x 4

This isn't so much Red Deck Wins as it is a Red Metalcraft Deck Wins. When Kuldotha Phoenix was spoiled I knew I MUST MUST MUST have a playset. Thanks to my friend Mike and the Lakeland store dropping them $1 a piece, I have my playset. I figure a 5cc 4/4 Flying Haste will hit most of the time. When Phoenix is Metalcraft active it will continue to beatface. Even if they deal with it in traditional ways it keeps on coming back. Short of a Journey to Nowhere or a well timed Condemn (which was also the problem for Demigod) the Phoenix should be aces. In order to get the Metalcraft going the deck obviously needs artifacts. To the Gather I said! And searched up new Artifact Creatures with relevant abilities to a RDW beatdown strategy. I'm not totally sure if the deck will even work and not sure if 12 Artifact Creatures will get there (my guess is not) but I MUST try!!! Hopefully by the time you need to hardcast the Phoenix it spells game over for your opponent.

My Artifact Picks for the deck:
Vulshok Replica fits into the 3 Drop curve on your way to Phoenix. He beats for 3 and kill most creatures. When he dies he acts as a Lightning Bolt to your opponents face. Not great but not terrible either.

Perilous Myr is quite the same way as the Vulshok but adds a different dynamic because he can deal damage to creatures as well. It can put your opponent on difficult blocks or attacks depending on what is in your hand. If blocked the Myr can kill an up to 3 toughness dude. Not bad.

Chimeric Mass is great because it's curve is ambiguous. It can come down early and do a Mishra's Factory impression or can come down late and beat for 5 or 6. I like the flexibility of Chimeric Mass.

And before you start obviously Molten-Tail Masticore x 4 should somewhere in this list as should Koth of the Hammer but as I stated before, I'm a budget player a just refuse to pay the crazy money dealers are asking for. I can work with what I have. Thanks.

Goblin Guide and Ember Hauler round out the creature base because Goblin Guide is the best Turn 1 in Standard and Ember Hauler attacks, blocks and give you a bit of reach toward the end.

The burn suite is obvious. Lightning Bolt because Bolt is the best burn spell in the game. Galvanic Blast is still questionable. Not sure If I like it yet but it fits in with the Metalcraft theme so far. Or it just becomes Staggershock or Burst Lightning x 4 instead. Arc Trail is there because, well, if you've ever played Arc Lightning, which I did x 4 during Saga Standard and Block, it is an amazing card. Arc Trail is basically the same card minus one in the casting cost. But I think it is relevant because it can take out early Birds of Paradise and Fauna Shamans.

The Sideboard I threw together and is totally questionable. Manic Vandal x 4 is the only thing I'm sure of only because it eats 50% and beats for 2. Goblin Ruinblaster for pesky Valakut and control man-lands. Combust is for one creature and one creature alone...Baneslayer Angel. If a Baneslayer sticks I'm probably dead.

So there is the first deck I will attempt to build in the new and (imo) $#!tty Standard. I only call it that because I don't like when sets force you play one way, that way being artifacts. I initially didn't like Lorwyn for forcing Tribal but realized Tribal isn't that bad. They are still just creatures and spells. Artifacts are bad because they can die to double the amount of removal spells.

I'll have to trade for some Chimeric Mass but that's about it. Then I can try the new Standard.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What the MUC?!?

...and by MUC I mean Mono-Blue Control to all you non-Magic players.

I've been wanting to build a Mono-Blue Control deck for Legacy for quite some time now. I think I know how I want to build it. Like any good MUC deck in eternal formats...it starts something like this:

Force of Will x 4
Counterspell x 4

There are a couple of different routes you can go with a MUC deck these days. Now that I'm becoming a proponent of combo decks I think I want to go in that direction. But I want to have a few roads to victory via a couple of different "soft" locks.

Spell Snare x 3
Counterspell x 4
Force of Will x 4
Cryptic Command x 3
Ancestral Vision x 4

Counterbalance x 4

Sensei's Divining Top x 4

Spellstutter Sprite x 4
Glen Elendra Archmage x 1
Sower of Temptation x 1
Vendlion Clique x 3
Venser Shaper Savant x 1

Mishra's Factory x 4
Faerie Conclave x 4
Riptide Laboratory x 2
Islands x 12
Scalding Tarn x 2

Propaganda x 4
Spell Pierce x 3
Nevinyral's Disk x 3
Tormod's Crypt x 3
Sower of Temptation x 2

There are a few things going on with this MUC build. I based it on a Mono-Blue Faeries build that I had for Extended a while ago. But I added some Legacy action to make it competitive for the format. First off the Force of Wills just make the deck competitive right off the bat. Being able to stop turn 1 and 2 kills is super important in Legacy.

The combo that is in the deck is obviously the soft lock of Sensei's Divining Top and Counterbalance. Counterbalance is basically a Counterspell on a stick as long as the top card of your library shares the casting cost of the spell attempting to be countered. Top basically stacks to set up the Counterbalance. Since plenty of decks in Legacy keep a low curve of 1-3 casting costs it is easy to do and maintain. Turn 1 Top and turn 2 Counterbalance can spell good game for some opponents. It is difficult to play around and hard to disrupt. If MUC can aggressively mulligan to get the right pieces in place it can be devastating. It can single-handedly lock out an aggro Zoo deck or keep a combo deck in check.

The other sub-combo in the deck is Riptide Laboratory and the 10 Wizards available. Riptide allows you to bounce a Wizard you control from play back to your hand. This allows the 10 Wizards in the deck with relevant abilities to become reuseable sources of card advantage. Basically 6 of the Wizards double as Counterspells, 3 of them snag the best card in your opponents hand or changes out your irrelevant late game lands into gas, and the last Wizard is a Control Magic on a stick. This soft combo also provides combat tricks. You can counter a spell with Spellstutter, block and bounce. Effectively creating a wall of blockers if you have the mana and both Riptides out. I know 10 Wizards isn't a lot but with 4 Ancestral Visions and 4 Tops, you are going to get your Riptides and Wizards into play.

The two mentioned combos, er...combo'd with a vast ocean of counter-magic makes the deck (draw) go. Not only does the deck have two ways of creating infinite counters but it also packs a whoping 18 hard counters. No joke. I love me some control spells. FOW for obvious reasons, Countespells because I'm playing a counterspell deck, Spell Snare because plenty of the best cards in Legacy are 2cc (Goyf, Survival of the Fittest, Fauna Shaman, Lord of Atlantis, Counterbalance, etc.), Spellstutters to provide 2-for-1 action (or more), and Cryptic Command. Cryptic might just be a 2-of and I'll increase Spell Snare to a 4-of because Cryptic, although awesome in it's utility, is just too slow for the format. Whereas Spell Snare cockblocks plenty of money cards in Legacy. But my love of Cryptic is keeping it as a 3-of and I may go to a 4-of!!! Cryptic is so damn versatile I could blog all night about it. But I won't. First off, it is a 2-for-1 most of the time. You stop there backbreaking spell AND draw more gas. Or you can bounce ANYTHING. Tap all those angry Goblins. Just saying. But again, it's probably too slow. Sad face.

This version of MUC runs 8 manlands to help in beatdown duties. I wish Mishra's Factory x 4 was Mutavault x 4 but I will not shell out the $50 it will take to get there. The cool thing about the Mutavualts is they can combo with the Riptides as well as helping to add to Spellstutters. Factories will have to make do. Conclave is a nice evasion beater that adds the critical blue mana the deck needs. The two Scalding Tarns are the only two blue Fetchlands I own and help in the reshuffling of the deck if Top becomes dry. I wanted to put in two Vedalkan Shackles but realized that I may not consistently have Islands out to make it effective.

Sideboard options were so up in the air. Larry Nevin's Disk to a reset button if need be. I don't own any Powder Kegs so Disk will have to do. The cool thing about Disk is I can blow up the world but still save Top and bounce Wizards if need be. Propaganda is for decks that need creatures to win, mainly Zoo, Goblins, Survival, etc. You need to mulligan aggressively to get one in hand otherwise an angry Goblin Lackey turn 1 can wreck you. Or early Survival of the Fittest can spell dangerous Vengevine action. Spell Pierce goes in for combo decks and Survival as well. Tormod's Crypt is obviously for anger graveyard happy decks like Dredge, Survival, Reanimator, etc. I threw in two Sowers for creature match-ups. After you drop Propaganda to slow them down you can steal there Goyfs they over committeed with. Happy face.

If I had to play in a Legacy tournament today I'd probably pack this deck only because it takes tight play to win with it. Given the circumstances of a tournament, I think I can pull off tight play. Although, playing casually for so long has made me a worse player (but note: my first FNM back I took down first playing RDWs). I also like taking control in the late game which this deck is meant to do. But I think I'll concentrate next on a Mono-Red Burn deck for Legacy only because you only really need seven action spells to win and it really isn't all that interactive. You just blow up your opponent's face and hope they don't have the FOW for your Fireblast.

I initially wanted to build a version that had Counter-Top as well as Scepter-Counterspell/Echoing Truth/Fire & Ice and 1 Morphling, 1 Rainbow Efreet and 1 Sphinx of Jwar Isle, but I've played the Faeries version a lot and can probably play it better. But I will have to test when I get a chance. My Magic playing days have become so limited (almost none) that I have to resort to blogging about it. I have to try and find some time.

Quick sidenote: The new Scars of Mirrodin's Ardent Sphinx in a MUC build with TONS of gangster artifacts might also be a route to explore for Legacy. Ardent is basically a better/worse version of Rainbow Efreet. It is better because it is a 4/3 flyer vs. a 3/1 flyer and it can "Phase" for only one blue mana versus two blue mana. It is worse because you need Metalcraft to get it's "Phase" on whereas Rainbow just does. But in Legacy, there is an abundance of awesome, broken ass artifacts to throw into your deck, Top, Shackles, Scepter, Disk, Zuran Orb, Mox Opal, Chrome Mox, Powder Keg, Engineered Explosives, etc. just to name a few.