"I don't think this word means what you think it means?"
Yeah, I rarely get to rock the cards these days.
Back to Back FNMs?!? Unheard of!...well, at least for me.
I haven't been rocking the cards that much since moving down to the Flo.Rida. So back to back FNMs is crazy for me. Last FNM I rocked Valakut and sat through 4 rounds of grueling matches all going to time, expect for round 1 which was against Infect.
I decided that I wanted to be the beatdown so I had a choice of which aggressive deck I wanted to do battle with: Boros, Vampires or Quest.
Boros was a good choice because it has explosive starts, isn't weak to too many hate cards, and has good reach. Vampires is much the same but is weak to mass removal but makes up for it with a pimp combo with Highborns and Bloodghasts. Vamps also has tons of reach with burn, the built in combo, 12 dual lands, and the all-star of the deck: Dark Tutelage. Quest is also explosive, has a great combo that causes dudes to scoop on turn 2 or 3 and has good mana with access to 12 dual lands.
Vampires, although a good deck, sometimes doesn't get there if you don't draw Dark Tutelage or Kalastria Highborn. Plus, I didn't have enough of the good sideboard cards to fight that evening.
Quest is gangster as hell and can blow up on an opponent's face. It has excellent draws that force people to scoop BUT if it doesn't get the Argentum Armor combo OR the Fauna Shaman/Vengevine combo, its a terrible, horrible, GHASTLY weenie white deck. Blah.
Despite the off colored Red and White with no dual lands...I played Boros. Boros can get there and I had tons of cards for my sideboard.
Here's what I rocked last Friday night:
Steppe Lynx x 4
Plated Geopede x 4
Goblin Guide x 4
Squadron Hawk x 4
Stoneforger Mystic x 3
Mirran Crusader x 2
Hero of Oxid Ridge x 2
Lightning Bolt x 4
Journey to Nowhere x 2
Arc Trail x 2
Koth of the Hammer x 1
Adventuring Gear x 2
Sword of Body and Mind x 1
Bonehoard x 1
Scalding Tarn x 4
Arid Mesa x 4
Marsh Flats x 4
Terramorphic Expanse x 3
Mountain x 5
Plains x 5
Cunning Sparkmage x 4
Sword of Feast and Famine x 1
Basilisk Collar x 1
Journey to Nowhere x 2
Goblin Ruinblaster x 4
Koth of the Hammer x 1
Mark of Mutiny x 2
I decided to just throw a board together but looked at the Paul Rietlz list from PT Paris for ideas. I basically just toss some crap together, worrying about creature heavy decks, Valakut and Caw Blade.
Before getting into the report a little narrative to the night is in order. I was initally planning on going to Armada Games in Tampa because I knew that Coliseum of Comics (where I normally FNM) was having Draft since I rocked FNM last Friday with Valakut. I decided to stop by just to see what Edward had in the case. I had a little time and the drive to Tampa is fairly quick. As I walked in I saw that Mike was already there and Standard was on the docket for FNM. Awesome.
I talked to Mike for a while and picked up some cards to update my Boros build (which, in hindsight I think weakened the deck for me). Prior to picking up Mirran Crusaders, Hero of Oxid Ridge and a third Stoneforger, my decklist was mana light at 24 and curved to 3 (technically 4 with Bonehoard but that usually gets in with Mystic). Basically I got greedy and wanted to rock Koth and Hero, both with double red AND I wanted to play Mirran Crusader at double white. Damn. Let me explain why. Koth is the nuts. Its basically a 4/4 haster that if not dealt with will end games even if the deck only has 5 mountains in it. Hero does a good job of getting around Walls, Hawks, and opposing Mystics. Plus, Hero can close out games extremely quickly. If you know you have the Hero in hand and can curve to 4 consecutively you will win that game. Imagine this line of play. Turn 1 Lynx. Turn 2 Plated Geopede. Turn 3 Goblin Guide. Turn 4 Hero of Oxid Ridge (and all those turns had double landfall triggers). You win. It's insane. Mirran Crusader I thought was good because imagine equipping a Bonehoard to Crusader in the mid to late game. He swings TWICE. Good game.
The problem that I found with all my deck changes was this: I got greedy with the mana and found myself light or color screwed a few games. If I kept my original plans with Kor Skyfishers to pick up Tettering Peaks and Stoneforgers along with equipped up Spikeshot Elders, I think I would have done infinitely better. In prior testing I ran out a Mystic and tutored a Sword. The next turn drop the Sword with Mystic's activated ability then picked her up with Skyfisher for EVEN MORE card advantage the following turn. Its sick really. And Spikeshot, double equppied ends games with a bit of reach the deck had lost. Plus, the converted mana costs was down, I ran only 24 lands, I had more 1-drops and no double reds or whites. I wish I didn't get greedy.
A quick aside: I really miss playing casually with all my fun decks and with the playgroup back home. Those guys made the game super fun for me. Grinding out FNMs is fun, but can really make me HATE this game. But its my only time to play. Damn.
Before the tourney I played a few games with Ian and Mike, a couple of the players I've befriended. I let Ian rock my Boros deck so I can run Vampires. I went 2-1 then 1-2 in that matchup but had fun with Vamps. Vamps is such a good deck versus aggro matchups. I played Mike with my Jank Mono-Black Control deck and lost to his Cawblade that he used to like Top 32 or something at a TCG 5K in Miami. More on the Caw Blade matchup later.
Round 1: Flavio playing GW Quest 1-1-1
Flavio is kid I've played casually a few times before. Regardless of only starting a few months ago, he is a very tight player and knows his shit. He has a very casual and loose play style but I think that actually masks how good of a player he truly is. He actually threw together a GW Quest deck and I actually let him borrow the namesake of the deck itself: Quest for Holy Relic since I wasn't planning on playing mine.
Game 1 is ridiculous. This game goes about 30 minutes, him with no Quest and me with no landfall dudes. But both of us kept dropping Squadron Hawks. He even couldn't get a Vengevine plan going. I ended up grinding the win with Hawks, Mystics and Bonehoard. I kept putting him on awkward blocks until my Sworded up protected birds could get there. Bonehoard gave +9/+9 by the time I won.
Game 2 I curve out pretty well and get a great start putting him on early blocks with his artifact dudes. He gets a Quest active at 3 counters and Fauna Shaman pitches Vengevine. I drop a Mystic and tutor Bonehoard again and it looks very good for me considering I have Hero of Oxid Ridge in hand. When I swing with a Feast and Famined hawk he pitches Vengevine. At this point I was tapped out but would win next turn when I Mystic in Bonehoard and Equip on my Hawk. Doesn't happen. He proceeds to pitch another Vengevine with Shaman, and play Skyfisher on his Thopter (which he didn't chump with) and replay Thopter to trigger double Vengevines AND Argentum Armor off the Quest. He slams into me for like 14 and destroys my sword. Bringing back his Vengevines puts him out of reach because Bonehoard becomes weaker. I proceed to lose that game at time.
Game 3 we decide to just draw but play it through. Unfortunately for me I think I have the game well in hand when Edward calls time and I take the draw. Also unfortunately for me, Mike and Ian actually drew as well and I get paired up with Mike playing the monster of the format: Caw Blade.
Round 2: Mike playing Caw-Blade 1-2
Caw Blade is the best deck in Standard since it dominated PT Paris and won SCG Open in DC. Its basically a midrange styled deck that plays either aggro versus control and control versus aggro. The original deck conceived by the Japanese at Worlds last year made Top 8 in the hands of Hall of Famer Brian Kibler. With the addition of Stoneforgers and Swords has pushed the strategy over the top and gave the deck exactually what it needed: additional untap steps. The deck is oozing with card advantage and getting to untap lands after a Sword of Feast and Famine strike (plus discarding a card) is amazing since it now has mana to bring in more equipment or counter spells. Mike is very good player since his return to the game 7 months ago (I played him his first FNM back when he played a budget version of that season's best deck: Jund). Mike and I have played casually since then, me just throwing janky Standard decks together and him, his powers growing rapidly.
Game 1 I'm on the draw and proceed to curve out pretty well with Lynx, Goblin Guides and Geopedes. I'm able to get some Swords down while he plays defense. Journey to Nowhere on a Mystic takes some tempo away from him. I have to grind out a win past Jace but eventually get there. Mike was still boarded from the previous round though so some cards he had out would have been good game 1 but I don't know what those cards were.
Game 2 is a long drawn out game with him Ousting and Condemning my Goblin Guide and my Geopede. That basically shuts me down. I was able to get some Hawks going with Swords off of Mystics. Luckily Boros can play Caw Blade too. He drops Gideon and proceeds to let my dudes beat on him for 3-4 turns and gets him to 1 loyalty while he digs for a Day of Judgement. In my defense I was stuck on 2 lands for a while and then 3 lands: 2 Mountains and Plains with 2 Mirran Crusaders, Koth and 2 Oxid Ridges in hand. I never got the 4th land or 2nd plains as The Superfriends, Jace and Gideon got there. Tough beat. I feel that the 3cc to 4cc curve is bad for the deck. I was rocking 25 lands and was mana screwed. Had I stuck with my old version I think I could have taken that game. At the same time, had I hit the 4th land on turn 4 I think my hand had enough gas and reach to get past Gideon sooner and win prior to DoJ going off. Shrugs. Game 3 with only 9 minutes to go.
Game 3 is similar to game 2. I get stuck on 3 lands for the entire game and a timely Day of Judgement rocks my world. I still have gas with Hawks and Stoneforgers but my missed land drops don't help as Mike proceeds to hit all his land drops with the help of Preordains, turn 5 Jace, turn 6 Gideon, turn 7 Baneslayer. Good game. I really don't want to blame manascrew since its part of the game. I rocked enough lands it just didn't happen for those two games. Again, in hindsight, had I kept my original build I think I would have operated with just 2-3 lands and could have competed more in these losses.
Oh well. I'm 0-1-1.
Round 3: Gabe playing UB Homebrew 2-0
This dude is new to the game as well but doesn't have the same swagger that the other kid, Flavio has. Gabe still plays very noobish and is rocking an interesting, yet suboptimal deck. His first mistake is playing a deck that's half Blue but has 0% Jace the Mind Sculptor. Notice, whenever I do an FNM report, I never play Blue because I don't have any JACES. Don't play Blue if you don't have the best card in the format. Its like playing Faeries without Bitterblossoms. Jund without Bloodbraid. Naya Lightsabre without Vengevines, UG Survival without Survival of the Fittest. JUST DON'T DO IT. If you're going to play Standand and want to play Blue, you must be playing Jace. If you're not you're most likely 99% wrong (albiet Ali Andrazi (sp?) used only 2 in his Mono-Blue Thrummingbird deck to a Top 8 finish).
Game 1: I know he has some Jank combo with Shape Anew into Blightsteel Colossus so I try to play accordingly. I know this to be a fact when he plays Trinket Mage into Everflowing Chalice. I think he's about to combo turn 3 when he ultimately doesn't. I curve out properly and just get there with the beatdown strategy mixed with some Sword action and we're on to game 2. I think he dropped Abyssal Persecutor at some point that I Journey to Nowhere. This prompts me to side in Mark of Mutiny and more Journies.
Game 2 I admittedly play loose this game and am already thinking about the next round. I have a Journey, a Geopede and a Mark in hand as he Inquisitions me and steals my landfaller. I stick some Hawks and Stoneforger for a Sword. He sticks an Abyssal Persecutor full well knowing I have the Mark in my hand. I think I'm going to outrace him with the Oxid Ridge in my hand. He proceeds to Mana Leak it and there goes my win condition. I take some Abyssal beatings for a few turns and have him dead to rights the next turn after I drop him to 4. I was at 18 after some fetching and due to two Abyssal strikes I'm at 6 as he swings into me dropping me to 0 but with Persecutor he can't win. The moment he hits me I know he has the removal and a totally fucking punt this game away since I could have blocked with a Hawk, gone to 1 and counterstriked for lethal. I ask, "Go for the Throat?" He shakes his head, No. Into the Roil his Persecutor and I lose the game. Damn.
Game 3 I play tight as I can and curve out exactly as the deck should. I hit all my landfall triggers, don't pop fetches when he chumps for maximum damage. He even questioned an equipped Adventuring Gear, Landfall trigger, re-equip to another creature, crack fetch for landfall trigger. I explain that I do this for a few reasons: for him to rethink his blocks, since he had a Persecutor out, and me spread the damage around to maximize my reach. I take the game as we go to time. Whew.
I'm 1-1-1. The Trifecta.
Round 4: Christian playing UB Infect Homebrew 2-0
I've played this kid before a few FNMs ago. He was the kid that sacced all his gangster cards for a Pyromancer's Ascension deck you could build for $20. He's a good kid but has tons to learn still. He's playing some homebrew that I don't even want to get into.
Game 1 he plays Forest and an Llanowar Elf. I immediately think Elves but don't burn the Arc Trail in my hand. I just play my landfallers and swing into him. When he sticks some jank Infect dude I 2-for-1 his dudes and get in there with Geopede, Lynx and Goblin Guide for the win.
Game 2: See game 1 but to make it worse he kept a one land hand.
2-1-1 and I get like 6th place. Surprise surprise, Mike takes first place with the best deck in the format, and the room. The only other Tier 1 deck I saw in the room was my own and GW Quest (built suboptimally but played well). Mike's final match for First Place came down to game 3 with Mike letting the other undefeated kid misplay like a motherfucker. The kid most likely had Mike dead to rights with an Alpha Strike on Gideon and would have finished off next turn but the kid misplayed a Brave the Elements. He should have played Brave the Elements then attacked which would have given his team Protection from White and no blockers could have been assigned. Instead he attacked and then cast the Brave. Mike sweet talked some "pass the priority" rules lingo, which ultimately confused the kid and let Mike Jedi Mind Trick him instead of backpedalling and playing it proper. With the passing of priority it allowed Mike to assign blockers, which meant although the kid's guys were protected, were ultimately blocked. But I probably would have done the same thing had it come down to Game 3 for First Place. In a learning situation, I would back up the gamestate, explain to the kid what he should have done and allowed it to be played proper. Fuck it. I would have done the same thing. We explained it to him after the kid lost a long and drawn out game. I bet he'll never allow that shit to happen again.
All in all a fun time for Boros but I think I want to tweak the deck more for the future. Things I learned: Hero of Oxid Ridge is not the tits. Not once did I cast him FTW. Nor is Mirran Crusader. I sided out Crusader in EVERY match. There is no optimal time to play the Crusader. At three mana you want to be casting or flashing in a Sword not over extending. But I'll just have to tweak and test. Then maybe give Boros another run.
But, an old school player took down an SCG Open with fucking Red Deck Wins, so maybe I'll sleeve up the old burn spells and give it a proper whirl next FNM. Searing Blaze with fetches is money as hell. Best 2-for-1 spell next to Arc Trail.
There is also a GW Aggro deck called Jumanji I wouldn't minding testing. But I'd have to take apart Quest to do so. We'll see.
Until next time fellow nerds...
"Anybody want a peanut?"