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.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Back and Better Than Ever!

It has been a while since I've updated the old blogspot. I've been busy and a lot has happened since the last post. First, my uncle passed away and we had tons of family in for the wake and funeral. Also, my cousin had his reaffirmation of his wedding vows, and had a much-to-do about the entire thing, so plenty of family functions rolled into that event as well.

As for me, I've spent plenty of my time hanging with the wife and kid, preparing for the completion of our new house here in Florida. It has been a year since I started this blog and tons happened since. Since moving, I've gone through two design jobs, very happy with the second one, and have began teaching again. I have also since had tons of time to exercise and work out. I've lost around 30 pounds, reduced my waist size and upped my bench press. I'm actually lifting free-weights again for the first time since high school. The house stuff has been amazing. I just feel so blessed to be able to find a new home we really like and am happy we got approved. Fingers crossed it all works out in the long run.

I'm also illustrating again after a long 6 month hiatus. I have been averaging an illustration in about a week and half for the last 6 weeks or so. My goal is to get enough new pieces posted on my portfolio site to submit to Wizards of the Coast to see if I can generate any kind of freelance work. Regardless of which game I'd be able to illustrate for but obviously Magic the Gathering would be the ideal game but I do not think I'm there just yet.

And to segue into Magic the Gathering...

Since last I posted I was on a decent run with Standard FNMs. I had a good 4-0-1 finish with Eldrazi Gree, 4-1 with Valakut , 3-2 (?) with Boros, I went 5-0 with Exarch/Twin then 3-2 with the Big Red One decklist. A lot has happened so lets discuss the last month of Magic.

Not really brewing up any Standard decks I decided to take a stab at EDH. I heavily modifed the Kaalia the Vast pre-con deck. I took out all the jank and threw in as many good demons, angels and dragons I could find in my binders. The thing I love about the deck is if you can get Kaalia out early, you can start the beatdown as early as turn 3 and just drop dragon after angel after demon and just fuck somebody up!

I took the EDH deck for a whirl at the first week of the Commander League at Coliseum of Comics here in Lakeland. Mind you, this is the first time I've ever played the format considering I fucking HATE the format. I'd rather just play all the awesome casual games that I did back home, with real competitive decks, not just random janky cards that can somehow combo. Yuck.

Round 1 of my maiden EDH League I was playing against the Group Hug Pheldagriff deck, two GWB Ghave decks, and a RWU deck with the new female Antelope chick as its general. This game is stupid. My mana is fixed with my awesome lands, I hit a Sol Ring into some signet action and I have Lightning Greaves in hand. I ramp, play Greaves and am attacking with Kaalia turn 3 hasty and bringing in a Red Akroma. I chop the Antelope General a quarter of his life, then in half and by the time he is at like 14 from 40 life, me bringing in all types of Angels and Demons, some kid Hex's my team and O-Rings my Greaves. Then another kid infinite combos with Ghave and Ashnod's alter to make a gazillion gazillion/gazillion dudes. See that dice? That's a gazillion. Wow. I am next and need to draw into a Wrath of God/Damnation type effect. I draw tons of cards off a multi-player draw spell and am one mana short of hard casting Blazing Archon to at least save my life for a turn. I don't get there. Neither does the other three guys and we die. The kid that wins I've played many times in FNM and gives me Second Out (+2 points) for picking on his boy for no reason but the fact he was behind on board position the turns I was fucking everybody up. The way I look at it is this, if a player looks weak on board you must get him out ASAP. Once he is bleeding  let him just bleed out. Period (no pun intended). Multi-player is like being in a shark tank. The first to get scratched should die first if he can't stabilize on his own. If it wasn't for a timely Hex, an O-Ring and Aura Shards, I would have eaten that kid's face and the dude next to him. Oh well. Some of the guys at the table felt pity for him. I say, "Fuck him." If he can't defend himself he shouldn't be playing in a group game. And the Group Hug deck was hooking him up with mana AND cards and he still couldn't stop my enormous beatdown. It took 3 guys to stop me. Fuckers.

Round 2 I am up against a Mono-Black EDH deck (I forgot the general), a Rafiq of the Many deck, a Aniwar the elemental dude, and another Ghave deck (but this kid bounced 3 turns in because his ride was leaving or some such). It basically becomes a 4 way game and I begin the beatings yet again with a turn 3 Kaalia into turn 4 Kaalia swinging with White Akroma into Bogardan Hellkite into Iona, Shield of Emeria. Somebody Wraths the Board after I get the Aniwar kid into single digits with lethal on board next turn. After the Wrath, Rafiq stabilizes with a Meddling Mage naming Kaalia, a Gadock Teeg (which shuts down my Wraths) and a Lifeforce (which shuts down the Massacre Wurm in hand and the Mono-Black player). Even after bad attacks into my first striking man-land which kills Teeg, he luck sacks into Loxodon Warhammer and like triple Exalts Rafiq for something stupid like 22 damage. I'm dead in two turns, but this is after the one kids scoops and the Mono-Black player (who played horribly) gets owned. I'm Third Out and end the night with 5 Points.

I thought EDH would be more fun but it turns out it kinda sucks. I hate the deck building process and the totaly randomness of it all. Of course you can fix your draws with tutor effects and draw spells but it just doesn't feel the same as playing with modified 60 card Spike decks we used to play with back home. I preferred the Spikey kitchen table group games over fucking EDH. I may go back one day since Rafiq is a sick general to build around. So is Gadock Teeg, Isamaru Hound of Konda and Uril the Mistwalker. I may take another stab. Kaalia was awesome but she draws way too much heat your way if you can get an early beatdown. EDH is political war and I played Germany in both my games. I'm not surprised I won since there was no Italy or Japan to back me up and the Allies just ganged up on me for being so dominate.

The following day I wanted to chillax with Phoenix but my dad said he'd watch him and urged me to go out and play some Magic. Since Lakeland Coliseum was having draft, that meant I was playing FNM Standard at Armada Games for the night. I got off of work a little early, got some Starbucks and took a drive to Tampa to play with a better, more dedicated metagame.

I didn't have a chance to build a new Standard deck since I pride myself on playing something new each FNM (since my playing days are limited I like to try new decks out). I had UR SplinterTwin ready to beat face. It was pretty much the same deck I rocked weeks back when I went 5-0. I knew I wouldn't do that well since this meta is much more challenging.

Round 1 I play against Red Deck Wins and get stomped Game 1. I was digging for combo pieces and never revealed what I was playing. Game 2 I controlled the game but misplayed Exarch on my turn. I got greedy, played to quickly for my own good, and just punted the game away when I had the on board. I was so mad at myself and that spelled out the rest of the evening. 0-2/0-1

Round 2 I play against a Weenie White Knights deck that comes out very aggro and comes out swinging. I stabilize with bounce effects and counter magic then combo on him handedly. Game 2 an early Pyroclasm takes all the wind out of his sails and I combo in good order. 2-0/1-1

This guy was a nice guy for sure and we played some side games after the fact. He rocked Eldrazi Green and I play Valakut which I used to curbstomp him 2-0. His deck was very casual and not an optimal build in my humble opinion.

Round 3 I played against a UG Vengevine deck that I liked so much I ended up building it myself. I was actually looking to build this deck prior but did not have the chance. I'll get into it shortly.

Game 1 he gets an early Fauna Shaman which I can't interact with and runs me over with Vengevines and Phyrexian Metamorphs. I am a turn from comboing because I have a mountain, Twin and Exarch in hand and a mountain in play. He decides to Shaman out an Acidic Slime to blow up my first mountain and I never get back in the game. He does slow roll a Frost Titan for fear of Mana Leak. When he goes for it I do have the Leak. Although I lost the game he never saw the combo so I had that as an advantage game 2.

Game 2 I am able to stabilize the early game with Pyroclasms killing his Birds of Paradise, Lotus Cobra and Nest Invaders. This becomes a long out drawn out attrition match but he gets on the killing my Islands this game and I have a hard time drawing anything. I do get a pair of Inferno Titans but they both get freaking Flashfrozen and I just lose the game. I do make a critical play mistake but I can't remember what it was. I think it revolved around a Dismember. 0-2/1-2 Drop

All in all that night sucked big time because my heart wasn't in it. I didn't really like the community there since they are mostly Magic snobs. I feel I will never go back to play FNM again. I did get to watch an all foil Cube Draft which was awesome.

A few weeks ago I was able to build the UG Vengevine deck but I added Birthing Pod. I sleeved it up and took it for a spin at Lakeland Coliseum. Here is what I played:

UG Birthing Pod:
Acidic Slime x 3
Micotic Slime x 2
Frost Titan x 2
Wurmcoil Engine x 1
Seagate Oracle x 3
Pilgrim's Eye x 1
Birds of Paradise x 4
Llanowar Elves x 3
Sylvan Ranger x 1
Viridian Emissary x 1
Phyrexian Metamorph x 4
Vengevine x 4
Fauna Shaman x 4
Birthing Pod x 4
Misty Rainforest x 4
Terramorphic Expanse x 1
Halimar Depths x 3
Tectonic Edge x 3
Forests x 7
Islands x 5

Dismemberment x 3
Beast Within x 4
Obstinate Baloth x 3
Flashfreeze x 4
Acidic Slime x 1

Round 1: Aaron playing RB Midrange
I've played Aaron before and he's a nice guy and know as much about the professional metagame as I do. I've since learned he's built a UR Splinter Twin deck just as I 2-0'd him the last time we met at FNM.

Round 2: George playing UW Midrange
George and his rogue decks curb stomp me to death. I think I'm 2-2 against George at FNMs.

Round 3: Adrian (not sure?) playing GW Infect
This is the kid that would accidentally shuffle his entire hand into his deck after searching up Squadron Hawks. Goes to show you that a good deck like Caw-Blade takes an excellent pilot to succeed with it.

Round 4: Christian playing Mono-Black Midrange
I've chatted with Christian regarding his Mono-Black deck and he's taken some of my advice. He is getting better as a player and deck builder.

A bunch of us get 3-1 and I get first place for beating all the other guys at 3-1. I get a buy-a-box Surgical Extraction foil promo to complete my set and 7 NPH packs. I pack absolutely nothing and trade away extra rares for a Myr Superion and Thrun the Last Troll.

With all the house stuff looming I don't get a chance to play much Magic.

Fast forward a few months...

Before Innistrad comes out and my beloved Zendikar block rotates I give Vampire a whirl at FNM. Its a typical stock list and I end up going 3-1 or 4-1. I forgot. I get like 4th place and pack some crap from M12. As with every rotation I tend to lose interest in Magic all together and Fantasy Football season is starts (which I am currently 4-1 and about to lose to my boy who I made and epic mis-trade too. gah).

M12 has come and gone AND Innistrad is now out. Standard has a brand new face. I have a brand new house and take the last few months moving everything into it. It has been a crazy transition and I feel like we'll never been 100% moved in. I still have stuff lingering around my folks house.

There are a few decks I want to try out but I refuse to go and get the money cards like Snapcaster Mage ($30) and new sexy Liliana ($70).

Decks to build and test:
1. New Caw-Blade, which I will call Ghost Blade since it uses Midnight Haunting as it advantage
2. Non-Liliana Solar Flare (Reanimator)
3. Green Blade
4. Jund Mimic Vat
5. UG Birthing Pod
6. Grand Architect Blue
7. MUC
8. GW Elesh Norn Aggro
9. Quicksilver Green
10. UR Phoenix Control (Counter Burn Strategy)

Hopefully I'll have decklists available and have a chance to test. But my urge to play this awesome game called Magic: The Gathering has been waning recently. I'd rather just chill with Phoenix on Friday nights.

Lastly, I won a deck building competition on the MTG Brainstorm Podcast and have since casted once and agreed to join the team. I'll let you know how that goes.

Until next time...

Peace and Blessings.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Yes they deserve to die! And I hope they BURN in Hell!!!”

“Yes they deserve to die! And I hope they BURN in Hell!!!”
– Samuel L. Jackson, A Time to Kill

Last week, Friday Night Magic rolled around and I didn’t have a deck I wanted to play nor did I have time to build anything prior. I knew I could just pull out ExTwin (which I'm going to call Madrox from now on) from the box and probably do pretty well but I made it a point to not play the same thing at FNM twice. The reasoning behind that rule is that I don’t have much time to play so I rather play something different and new each chance I do get. I could just as easily play Boros, Valakut or Vampires as well.

I’ve been known to throw some burn spells at people’s faces from time to time. Red Deck Wins is a strategy that I’ve always loved and hold dear to my heart. But I don’t like the current iteration of the deck or similar decks, i.e. Kuldotha Red, Goblins, etc. nor do I like those single minded strategies. I prefer to have plenty of options while playing and JUST throwing around burn spells is no longer my cup of tea. Granted the first few times I played FNM in Lakeland I did take down first place with my version of a Red Aggro build.

This is what my oldest and truest Burn deck looked like before I got rid of it all to finally grew up and get married.

Type 1 5/C BURN circa 1998:
Serendib Efreet x 4
Ydwen Efreet x 2
Lightning Bolt x 4
Chain Lightning x 4
Incinerate x 4
Psionic Blast x 4
Icy Manipulator x 3
Fork x 1
Wheel of Fortune x 1
Timetwister x 1
Time Spiral x 1
Yagamoth's Will x 1
Ancestral Recall x 1
Time Walk x 1
Demonic Tutor x 1
Vampiric Tutor x 1
Regrowth x 1
Balance x 1
Sol Ring x 1
Black Lotus x 1
Mox Ruby x 1
Mox Emerald x 1
Mox Jet x 1
Mox Sapphire x 1
Mox Peal x 1
Library of Alexandria x 1
Strip Mine x 1
Maze of Ith x 1
Mishra's Factory x 4
Volcanic Island x 4
Badlands x 1
Plateau x 1
Taiga x 1
City of Brass x 3

Disenchant x 2
Shattering Pulse x 1
Diabolic Edict x 2
Swords to Plowshares x 2
Pyroblast x 4
Red Elemental Blast x 4

What I like about this deck is it has plenty of options in good effective creatures that are hard to kill, some control elements in Icy Manipulators, ways to fill its hand in the multitude of orgasmic card drawing spells, and of course…BURN.

I wanted to build a deck that took advantage of similar themes and ultimately burned people out but had different angles to work from. Here is what I came up with and threw together an hour and a half before FNM started:

Kuldotha Phoenix x 3
Inferno Titan x 2
Koth of the Hammer x 4
Lightning Bolt x 4
Galvanic Blast x 4
Comet Storm x 1
Volt Charge x 3
Tezzeret’s Gambit x 3
Shrine of Burning Rage x 4
Everflowing Chalice x 3
Sphere of the Suns x 2
Tumble Magnet x 3
Contagion Clasp x 1
Mox Opal x 2
Tectonic Edge x 3
Mountains x 18

Slagstorm x 3
Manic Vandal x 3
Comet Storm x 1
Wurmcoil Engine x 2
Ratchet Bomb x 2
Shatter x 4

Trying to convert the strategies from my old school Type 1 Burn deck to a modern Standard deck was difficult but I think I found a build that I liked. It runs good and resilient creatures in Kuldotha Phoenix and Inferno Titan, and lets be honest, Koth of the Hammer is really a 4cc 4/4 Haste creature. It is running Tumble Magnets for control and some card draw in 3 maindeck Tezzeret’s Gambit.

Being able to attack from different angles is why I really like the deck. The cornerstone to this strategy for me is Shrine of the Burning Rage, which creates a board state of inevitability if not dealt with. There is a minor Proliferate theme so that helps to charge up the Shrine as well as refill the Tumble Magnets and ultimate Koth faster.

I played a deck like this when Scars of Mirrodin first dropped. It was a Big Red deck with a more Metalcraft theme, which becomes more of a minor theme in this new iteration. More on that when I get to my FNM report.

ROUND 1: Tim playing UB Myr Control
Game 1: I've played this guy before he unfortunately he is quite the douchebag and I hate having to play him. This game is long and drawn out but it comes down to me bulls-eyeing him with some burn, reaching Metalcraft and doming him with the full Galvanic Blast and Rage Shrine damage.

Game 2: Is pretty bad for me. I keep a two land hand with Mox opal, ramp and a chance for a turn 3 Koth. I don't see a third land for a while and have to discard a Phoenix in hopes of getting it back. By this time I'm holding all three of my Koths. I finally get a chance to play one and swing in for 4 damage. He draws and passes. I activate Koth again, knowing he's got the kill spell but I have to reach ultimate if I'm going to kill him. He does have the Go for the Throat for my Mountain and Stone Rain me. He then Into the Roils Koth. ugh. I've basically lost all the tempo as he proceeds to drop lands and plays draw go. I just dome him with burn spells so I don't have to discard. He eventually gets Myr Turbine out and me not drawing any Manic Vandals or Shatters. I eventually get a Koth out again and he proceds to stone Rain me again. He gets Myr battlesphere out and then a second one and just plain kills me. I HATE LOSING TO JANKY DECKS.

Game 3: This game is a reverse repeat of the last game. Instead of not enough land I get TOO MUCH LAND and no action spells. I slow roll a Koth for fear of it getting countered because it is my only real business spell in 3 turns. I wait a few turns and just run out artifacts and Shrine. I also do some Tezzeret Gambit action to dig for more but no real relevant spells. He eventually gets his Myr Turbine, Vess tutoring for Battlesphere action and me drawing every mountain in my deck. By the time I just start doming him with instants he has his plan online and I have 15 mountains in play and no real spells.

1-2 / 0-1

ROUND 2: Davitch playing bastardized Kuldotha Red
Game 1: I haven't played this guy before but it seems he has been playing for a bit. He thinks I'm on ExTwin since he was at the FNM I dominated a few weeks back. He keeps his hand and gives an asshole-ish verbal fist pump, "Oh! You're not going to like this!" and proceeds to drop double Ornithopter, Menmite but no lands. I draw, drop a land and pass. He drops Tettering Peaks and swings for 3. Whoopie! I play a land and ramp. he drops a land and Kuldotha Rebirths a thopter. Shit. I drop a land and Koth and beat with a 4/4 which he blocks. He attacks Koth and rapes him while adding double Signal Pest. I drop a land and a Magnet. He swings in and I'm at 8 and in trouble. I clear one of the Pests with a non-Metalcraft Blast. I do have Inferno Titan in hand but short a land. I draw, rip a Mox Opal with Metalcraft and drop the Titan wiping away most of his board but with no attack. I draws, plays the 1cc Red artifact Tarmagoyf which is a 5/5 but I tap it down EOT. I swing in with Titan and clear the rest of his team. He comes at me with his now 7/7 Red Artifact Goyf dude and I tap it down. Next turn I firebreath and dome him with Titan. GG.

Game 2: I side in all my sweepers and artifact hate. He drops a ton of little dudes including Perilous Myr. I drop mountains and ramp. I eventually Slagstorm and clear all his guys but get domed by the Myr. I'm having a bad Myr day. I don't have much action but a Koth, a slowly growing Shrine and a Phoenix but no Inferno Titans. He gets double Red Artifact Goyf dude (Slag Fiend?) which are both 5/5s. He Arc Trails Koth and himself then finishes off the Planeswalker with an attack. I am forced to chump with my Phoenix. I misplay and snap draw my next card without resurrecting Phoenix for chump blocking duties and I just die to the 5/5 Red Goyfs. I could have bought a few turns with chump block duty from the Phoenix but I just punted it away.

Game 3: Being on the play really really helps when I can turn 3 Koth, which is what I do. His team of chump blocking Thopters can do nothing to stop the gangster Planeswalker. I use Volt Charge on a blocker to ultimate Koth and still have one counter. My sea of Prodigal Mountains quickly out matches the horde of little Red and Artifact dudes.

2-1 / 1-1

ROUND 3: E.T. playing Hey Soul Sister
Game 1: The week prior I was talking with ET the TO about the infinite combo with Leonin Relic Hoarder and Phyrexian Metamorph comboed with a Soul Sister to gain infinite life. Early in the week of the FNM he tells me he's playing my deck. I'm like, "Splinter Twin?" ET replies, "No, Soul Sisters." I didn't prepare for the deck but Red inherently has a good game versus a White Weenie deck. ET is on the play and I have to mull to 6 on the draw. He gets his Leonin Hoarder out and me with no Instant speed removal in hand. I do get a Shrine, Tumble Magnet and Mox Opal out so that helps me get back into the game after he Hoarded my early Chalice. He gets two Pridemates out, one at around 7/7 and the other around 4/4 as well as a Serra's Ascendant threatening to beat my face as a 6/6 when he is at 29 life. He stalls out hoping to topdeck the Metamorph to combo on my face but I luckily use every resource I have, tap down his guys, refill with Volt Charge and Gambit, use Shrine to blow up his huge Pridemate and the nail in the coffin is Inferno Titan to clear his team. He does manage a Batterskull as his next action but my Tumble Magnet shuts that down handedly. My next turn is the second Titan and me taking chunks of his 29 life in two turns.

Game 2: I side in Slagstorms, Ratchet Bombs, a few Shatter and a Comet Storm. ET has a slow start with Kabria Crossroads and no opening guy. I manage to ramp with a useless Mox Opal that does nothing because I never reach Metalcraft. This game is pretty much like the first but this time I DO have the bolt when he tries to combo. He manages to get Relic Hoarder on my Mox and next turn goes to combo. I bolt and get my Mox back and he copies a Suture Priest. This game is highlighted by my blowout Comet Storm to kill two Soul Wardens and Volt Charging my Ratchet Bomb to 2 to kill two Pridemates. He does manage to get Batterskull down which I Shatter and he bounces. I Tectonic Edge his Crossroads, his fifth land, and he is unable to replay the powerful Equipment. I am able to get a Phoenix beatdown play and Shrine him out. It was an awesome game that swung in either direction. The entire series I feel I played the best possible Magic I could and earned those two wins. Traditionally, a lifegain deck spells destruction for a Red deck but I was able to pull out two great games. Whew.

2-0 / 2-1

ROUND 4: George playing UG Aggro
Game 1: The awesome thing about George is he is always ready to play an unconventional deck and just be his own deck builder. He always has surprises. This matchup was no different. The last FNM I had to beat him 3 games in a row because we both punted Game 1 on my error. But this was now a different matchup. George goes first on the play and I have to mull to 6 on the draw. He gets an early Birds which I decide not to Bolt. My mistake. He gets an early Mana Wall and Obstinate Baloth. The lifegain and the 4-ass is so bad for my deck. He continues to drop fat-assed dudes like more Obstinates, Leatherback and the Ooze guy that becomes more oozes. All these guys make my Lightning Bolts and Volt Charges look pretty stupid. I eventually get an Inferno Titan down to defend myself but he drops Phyrexian Metamorph down to copy my dude and I just lose.

Game 2: It is difficult to sideboard this match because his deck is so unconventional and just a horrible matchup for me. Wurmcoils go in to fight his 4/X dudes and a Comet Storm. This game I manage to just go off and ramp into an early Koth but he puts the kibash on that with a Leatherback. I get a Tumble Magnet and Shrine out and start digging with Tezzeret's Gambit. To my does George. He gets a Fauna Shaman which I Galvanic Blast for 2, no Metalcraft. I eventually get Metalcraft and that Galvanic Blast becomes very important. I could have killed the Shaman with a Lightning Bolt but decided to not risk it in case I don't get Metalcraft. I could have also Tectonic Edged his Misty Rainforest while he was still at 8 to force that 1 point of damage. Since the game came down to him being at 4 life and me with a Lighting Bolt in hand, Metalcraft and being dead on the following turn to attacks. Had I saved the Galvanic he'd be dead at that moment. Had I forced the fetch he would've been in Bolt range for a bullseye. I guess I just wasn't in the cards and I lose. Bad beats. Bad matchup all together. I NEVER lose 0-2! NEVER! Hahaha. Not true. Damn.

0-2 / 2-2

ROUND 5: John playing RB Midrange
This dude I've played before and it isn't very pleasant because he isn't the friendliest person in the world. Don't get me wrong, he's not a dick, just very serious and not very approachable. He's around my age and looks like an older version of my old friend JACO. He's a good player too. I know I have to really concentrate if I don't want to end up 2-3.

Game 1: He is on Red Black by the Blackcliff Cleave he drops turn 1. I get an early Koth and start beating face as he taps out. I don't have to fear the instant speed Stone Rain. I eventually get Koth's Emblem only off the back of a Tezzeret's Gambit, which draws me more mountains and no gas. Everything he puts out dies to my Mountain pings and he eventually succumbs to the burn.

Game 2: I side in artifact hate since I saw a lot of Equipments like Batterskull and Lashwrithe. He's on the play and Duress effects me and snags a Chalice so i can't turn 3 Koth this game. He sticks a Tumble Magnet and an Abyssal Prosecutor. I too get a Tumble Magnet but keep mine alive with Volt Charge and Gambit. I do get a growing Shrine online at some point and an active Koth. He does get a Batterskull online and after I burn down the token he Equips to Prosector and gains shit tons of life back. After some swings, counter-swings, some burn, getting Koth's Emblem again, he's at 11 and I'm at 10 but he has Prosecutor out with what looks like no way to kill it other then Go for the Throat, which I'm sure is sitting in his hand because he has been digging as well with Sign in Blood and Tezzeret's Gambit of his own. With no way of stopping the Lifelinking 10/10 Flying Trampler at this point I have to try and close the game out now. I just have enough to Mountain ping him for 3 at the end of his turn. On my turn, use Koth's -2 ability to double my Mountains to drop Inferno Titan, dome him for 3 and ping him for a lethal bullseye.  It was quite the match and took a lot to defeat him. 

2-0 / 3-2

Considering I just put the deck together an hour or so before the tournament I think I did okay. I wish I did better but  there some ringers there playing Spikey Caw-Blade and Boros so I'm sure I didn't stand a chance with my homebrew Proliferate/Metalcraft deck. But I enjoyed playing it and know that with some tweaking could do pretty well, post-rotation of Zendikar block because I know it would get out-tempoed by a real deck like Caw-Blade.

I got a foil alternate art Spellstutter Sprite for my troubles and did some minor trading for nothing legitimate. Hit up Denny's with some of the other guys and called it a night. Until next time I rock an FNM I do have tons of decks I want to build so I'm kind of excited about Standard right now after all my bitching and moaning about Jace the Mindscupltor. I do know that I have to play my Stoneforges soon since they will be rotating and I haven't had a chance to play with my Batterskulls yet either.

Decks to build for the near future:
UG Birthing Pod
Mono-Black Control
Aggro Valakut

Peace out!