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 surprise...so 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!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

“Deceiver Exarch’s resume? YOU’RE DEAD.”

“Deceiver Exarch’s resume? YOU’RE DEAD.” – Mike Flores on Yo! MTG Taps

Last week I decided to sleeve up a budget, meaning no Jace the Mindscupltor, Blue Red Splinter Twin/Deceiver Exarch combo deck. After seeing Flores's result at TCG 5k or something I thought it was the real deal. And it is.

After a brief Twitter conversation regarding the deck, Flores convinced me that UR Twin is the best thing you can do in Standard right now. Going back and listening to Top 8 Magic and his Yo! MTG Taps podcasts, Flores states, “Against ExTwin, your opponent can’t tap out after turn 2. If they do they are dead.”

This is very true. I’ll discuss it in my FNM report after I list the deck.

A couple of other things I wanted to bring up as well: the idea of Overextended is real, Legacy is disgustingly awesome, and a loose invite by KYT of the Eh? Team and Crazy Talk, to write for Manadeprived and maybe get on the Crazy Talk cast. I'll discuss these issues in later blogs. :)

Let’s go to work.

Here is what I rocked at the last FNM:

Deceiver Exarch x 4
Spellskite x 2
Consecrated Sphinx x 1
Inferno Titan x 2
Seagate Oracle x 4
Jace Beleren x 4
Preordain x 4
Mana Leak x 4
Spell Pierce x 2
Splinter Twin x 4
Into the Roil x 4
Tectonic Edge x 3
Halimar Depths x 3
Terramorphic Expanse x 4
Islands x 7
Mountains x 8

Inferno Titan x 2
Manic Vandal x 3
Urbarask the Hidden x 1
Pyroclasm x 3
Spellskite x 1
Spell Pierce x 1
Flashfreeze x 4

The deck is very real and it truly is the best and most powerful thing you can do in Standard right now. The combo is very difficult to stop when played optimally and it can go off on turn 4 about 50% of your games. The combo works like this, Flash in Exarch at the end of your opponents turn 3. Untap on your turn 4, play Splinter Twin on Exarch and tap to make an Exarch haste token, which when it comes into play untaps the Twinned Exarch to repeat the process. You make infinite haste tokens and swing for the win.

The easiest way to disrupt the combo is kill the Exarch when Twin comes down to enchant it. There is a multitude of spot removal spells in Standard to do this. If played optimally you wait for your opponent to tap out or tap open mana at the end of their turn with Exarch so they don’t have the opportunity to kill your guy.

The nice thing about the deck is, as Flores puts it, rewards good plays and is so powerful if bad plays happen, it can still win. This is very true since during the evening I made TONS of bad plays and still came out with wins. Flores admits himself he made some bad plays on his way to a 1st place victory in NYC.

My thoughts on the deck were confirmed by Flores in his podcasts and on Twitter: 2 colors is more consistent then the Grixis and RUG builds AND you get to run 4 Tectonic Edges.

My build is very loose compared to Flores. I didn’t feel his miser Pilgrim’s Eye was worth a slot and I even cut down on 1 mana. I also ran a full set of Beleren and no JTMS. My reasoning, obviously not having JTMS, but also you want to be winning on Turn 4, not casting JaceTMS. Beleren got the job done for me. Also his very loose 1-of Misers sideboard seems odd to me. There is a sick Trinket Mage/Elixir of Immortality package when Twinning Trinket Mage you can keep popping and fetching Elixir every turn. But I  just upped the consistency of cards and played stuff to fight green cards since creatures run rampant in my metagame. If I could I probably would have played more closely to his deck. But I just threw it together the night before, played two sets of games prior to the start of the tournament, and tossed my sideboard together.

The maiden game I played was against a version of Ali Antrazi’s Mono-Blue Grand Architect deck piloted by Edward the TO. Edward decided to get back into Standard Magic after just strictly playing EDH for a long time. I put him onto the deck when it first spoiled because he was talking to me about some janky blue aggro deck with horrible cards. Game 1 he gets Spellskite down turn 3 and a Phyrexian Metamorph copying his Spellskite. With one Skite it is still doable if I can get runner runner Into the Roils and my combo pieces. But with two in play it is difficult to win. So I scoop and move to game 2. Game 2 I combo on his face turn 4 and despite playing blue he has no way of interacting with me save Skites. Game 3 the same thing happens. I EOT Exarch on his turn and win the following turn. I play a few games against Ian’s GW Chancellor Genesis Wave deck. Ian admits it is a total junk deck with cool synergies. Game 1 he ramps like a bastard into Primeval Titan and just out manas me while I dig for combo pieces. Games 2 and 3 I am able to Leak and Pierce his Waves and win with my combo.

Round 1: Lyle with Hawkward

Game 1: Hawkward is a Weenie creature strategy that uses angry cheap artifact dudes and Tempered Steel to get a sick advantage. It also uses Steel Overseer as its lord to pump its team. It is a very basic intro to magic strategy that gains tons from Scars of Mirrodin being an artifact block. This kid is pretty much a noob so I control his board pretty easily but can't put my combo together. I do Exarch combat shennanigans to stem the artifact dude beatdown, like Flash in, tap down, and block for value. I eventually dig for an Inferno Titan and own his face.

Game 2: I side in all of my Vandals and Pyroclasms as well as a full set up Titans. I take out all my counter magic because on the play I think they are too slow. He gets some early game I wipe his team. I get an Overseer that I Vandal. He rebuilds with 3 more dudes and I wish I slow rolled the Pyroclasm. But it is irrelevant because he has Tempered Steel out already. I EOT Exarch, untap, draw and reveal Splinter Twin, "We done?" I ask. Lyle, "Uh...I have this Dispatch with Metalcraft?" I scoop to his dominating board presence.

Game 3: Dispatch is a card I didn't think about and am kind of pissed I totally walked into it. I truly don't believe he really knew what was going on but it doesn't matter since I punted that game. I maybe could have won but I didn't want to grind it out. I was playing for blood now. I play depths and have all of my combo pieces lined up with a perfect curve to four mana, including two mountains. I combo turn 4. Good game noob. 

1-0 / 2-1

Round 2: Christian playing Mono-Black Midrange

Game 1: Christian is a good kid who I've played in previous FNMs. He truly wants to get better at the game and really wants to learn. Maybe I've found my new padawan learner? The reason I list his deck as Midrange is because it can swing both ways depending on the match up. Because I'm a pseudo-control deck he goes aggro. He has some early Duress effects and takes Jace Beleren. Fine choice IMO. He gets on the triple Phyrexian Rager plan and starts beating my face in. I'm at about 8 life and take a serious beating before I can stabilize. When he plays the new Juzam Djinn for BBBB I scoop. This game I was desperately searching for a combo piece. I had the Exarchs but had to play them early for combat tricks to stem the bleeding and buy more time. Even with Spellskite out to defend my Exarchs he had way too much creature hate and gigantic dudes like Lashwrithe and Obliterator. He closed in way too quickly. Not only was I searching for another Exarch but also a 2nd mountain to play Twin. Ugh.

Game 2: This game is ridiculous. I go Island and Preordain to sculpt my hand. He goes EOT Surgical Extraction paying 2 life and snags my Preordains. WTF?!? I think that was a good play since I had a Preordain in hand so he certainly go value. This game gets dragged out for a while he uses the new Duress effect for Creatures/Walkers to snag Inferno Titan and Surgical Extracts that as well. He also triple Evil Presences two mountains and an island so I have to sit there and dig for just lands. Its absurd. Luckily this game Into the Roil and Spellskite buy me time and card advantage to get my combo finally up and running for the win.

Game 3: The rubber match is highlighted by my horrible play with Spellskite. This game goes long and becomes an attrition match. His discard and Surgical Extractions versus my tempo spells and 2-for-1s. I'm able to Manic Vandal a Lashwrite and Inferno Titan some Phyrexian Ragers. I have a Spellskite out as well to defend my Titan. He plays Enslave (the new black control magic) on my Titan AND I DON'T DIRECT IT TO MY SPELLSKITE. Damn. I even go so far as to Into the Roil the Enslave to get my Titan back only to let him Enslave it yet again. And I don't redirect it to my Spellskite. Jeez. I eventually get out Urbarask the Hidden and swing in with him and Vandal. He plays Obliterator tapped and swings with Inferno Titan. He domes me for 3, which I direct at the Spellskite and chump with the 0/4 dude as well. On my turn I play another Inferno Titan with haste and attack with the team for 12 plus 3 to the dome for the win. Whew. Didn't even get a chance to use the combo.

2-0 / 4-2

Round 3: George with White Weenie Quest

Game 1: George is one of the older players in the room, including myself and Edward and Aaron. I'm guessing George is probably closer to 40 then he is 30. Regardless, he is a deckbuilder for sure. He usually comes with a different kind of deck and doesn't netdeck like some of us do, again myself included. He actually has a RG Aggro list that looks very interesting to me. George is playing Quest of the mono-white sort that maxes out on Stoneforgers and Puresteel Paladins to abuse the Metalcraft ability and Equip Argentum Armor for free. Sick. He grossly misplays early and swings into my Seagate Oracle with his Double Striking Kor only to let it die accidentally. This game goes long as he gets tons and tons of Equipment out including Sword of Body and Mind on a Menmite. I totally misplay as I Into the Roil the Menmite when he goes to attack but he punts and lets it happen. We both overlooked the fact the Menmite had Pro-Blue and kept on playing. This helps me setup some combat tricks with Exarch for value and Splinter Twin a few turns later for the win.

Game 2: I max out on Pyroclasms and Vandals to fight him. He plays turn 2 Stoneforge for Sword of Body and Mind. He then realizes he punted last game. I tell him it probably didn't matter and I had the combo anyways. This game he hits his Quest turn 1 and loads up the board with guys. He also has Phyrexian Revoker naming Deceiver Exarch. Shit. I'm on 2 Islands, 2 Mountains in play, an Into the Roil, Tec Edge, Island and the combo in hand. With his team of 4 guys I have options but could use a Pyroclasm. I pass the turn with no action. He gets his Quest to 5 by playing Puresteel Paladin but is not Metalcraft. He swings with his team and instead of doing combat tricks with Exarch or bouncing with Into the Roil I just take it. I'm cut in half at this point. I draw my card and its a Pyroclasm. I do a mental fist pump, play my Island and then the Pyroclasm. In response he activates and sacrifices his Quest for Argentum Armor and snap equips his Revoker. Its exactly what I wanted him to do. I pass the turn. He plays another Puresteel Paladin and equips the Sword onto it and attacks with his Revoker. Before combat I Flash in Exarch and tap down his Revoker so no Armor triggers happen and I don't take 8. I wonder why he didn't just equip the Revoker but in hindsight maybe he didn't want his Paladin to eat a Pyroclasm. Second main phase he only has 1 mana open. I untap, draw, play a land, Into the Roil his Revoker no kicker then play Splinter Twin on Exarch, make a million dudes and breath a sigh of relief. It was a hard fought match against George because he is a solid player and deck builder.

George picks up his cards and begins shuffling as I begin to de-sideboard. "I can't believe you're not going to give me game one." George says as he slightly shakes his head in minor disappointment. The last two games were a pain in the ass and grinding out wins with ExTwin is not easy. But I screwed up game one and he punted it away.

"Let's do an epic game three." I say. We both begin shuffling and I present my deck.

Game 3: He goes first with a Plains, Double Striking Kor and Menmite. I play Island a Preordain and set up a Pyroclasm on top that I draw. I also have an Manic Vandal and Exarch in hand and a Splinter Twin as my next draw. He plays Plains and Stoneforge Mystic and gets his Sword of Body and Mind trying to protect his dudes with Pro-Blue. I play Mountain and Pyroclasm to get sick 3-for-1 card advantage. He plays Tectonic Edge and Phyrexian Revoker naming Deceiver Exarch. I play Island and Manic Vandal his Exarch. He plays land, Puresteel Paladin and passes. I play a Mountain and pass. He plays a land, drops SoBaM, equips and I Flash in Exarch to tap his dude down before he can get protection from Blue.

"Do you have it?" Asks George. I shake my head "yes" and reveal the Splinter Twin. It took 3 games but I swept him to continue undefeated. We discuss the match and both know it was a great battle. Despite my epic misplay and his punt, I'm glad we took it to game 3 because I never want to be that guy that is a douche-bag and doesn't give him the win for that punt. He has been cool with me in the past for sure and us older players need to stick together.

3-0 / 6-3

Round 4: Aaron playing homebrew RB Midrange

Game 1: I've never played Aaron before but I've certainly seen him at FNMs before. He looks to be around my age bracket, maybe younger and has a wedding band. So I know he's not going to be a D-Bag because at least a chick can stand him enough to marry him. You can always trust the married Magic players because they at least have some maturity and sense of respect. He scouted my testing with Edward before FNM started so he knows I'm on ExTwin. He goes first and plays a swamp and an Inquisition of Kozilek. Exactly what I don't want to see since my hand is Island, Tectonic Edge, Mountain, Seagate Oracle, Jace Beleren, Mana Leak and Splinter Twin. He snags my Jace. Good call I think to myself since Jace is a house in most games for me. I draw Exarch, play Island and pass. He plays an awesome Chinese Dragonskull Summit and Nantuko Shade. "I'm glad I'm not the only one who plays Nantuko Shade in Vampires!" I say. He smirks and passes. I play my Mountain and pass. He plays swamp and swings. I accept the damage, he pumps to make it 3 damage total, plays a Hexmage and passes. I draw a Mountain and play Seagate Oracle, see an Island and Spell Pierce, keep the Island and pass. He plays a kicked Gatekeeper of Malakir, I sacrifice my Oracle and eat the damage. He is stuck on 3 lands and passes. I play my Tectonic Edge and blow up his Dragonskull, which we learn was a wedding gift from his buddy. Funny. At least they could have been foils! He draws, plays another swamp, now he has 3 lands no red and Inquisitions me again. I have Mana Leak. I go and draw another land, play it and pass with 2 blue and 2 red open. He draws, doesn't have the land, swings with his 3 dudes, I Flash in Exarch for combat tricks and tap down Nantuko Shade and go to declare my block to eat Hexmage. He pauses me and shows the Go for the Throat which I have the blow out Spell Pierce for. "Do you have Splinter Twin?" Aaron asks. I drop it on the table and he scoops.

Game 2: He makes the mistake and reveals what was floating in his hand: Moltensteel Dragon and Phyrexian Obliterator x 2 and a Lightning Bolt. I know he's not on Vampires anymore. He's on some crazy Midrange strategy. I side in Pyroclasms for the early game. He turn 1 Duress effects me and snags a Mana Leak. I turn 1 Preordain and sculpt my hand to now have both combo pieces and necessary land. He drops a Hexmage and passes. I play a Halimar Depths to sculpt even more. He plays a Sword of Feast and Famine and swings. I play a mountain and pass. He equips his sword and swings. I flash in Exarch and tap his dude down. I play a second red source and drop Splinter Twin for the win. Turn 4, you're dead. Crazy fucking deck.

4-0 / 8-3

Aaron and I play some friendly games. I play Vampires and dispatch him handedly. He is a good player, doesn't make mistakes and plays very tight, with no expression or discouragement. I'm the opposite (well, I'd like to think I'm a good player). I actually try to use bluff tactics like long sighs, shoulder slumps, exclamations of horrible draws, etc. just to throw my opponent off even though I have the nut. I'd like to think it makes them play worse or make unreliable decisions based on my body language and facial expressions.

Round 5: Austin rocking one of my favorites...Boros.

Game 1: I quickly ask Edward who is in first place. He says I am as the only undefeated. That feels good because its been a while since I have been undefeated. Austin and I agree to draw but I tell him we should play it out anyways and no matter the outcome, whether I win or lose, he'll let me win and I'll give him his fourth foil FNM Squadron Hawk ($10 value). If we draw I might not get first and he might not get a prize at all. Game 1 goes like this. He plays Steppe Lynx and passes. I play Island Preordain and sculpt. I now have all the pieces I need. He plays Shrine of Burning rage after a cracked fetch and swings. I'm at 16. I play a Mountian and pass. He plays a Sword of War and Peace which I Mana Leak. He cracks in for another 4. I'm at 12. I play an Island and pass. He plays yet another fetch, cracks and swings for another 4. I Flash in Exarch and tap his Lynx down. I go, play Mountain show him Splinter Twin and he scoops.

Game 2: We both decide to not board since he's giving me the win anyways. It is the same line of play but worse because he opens with Goblin Guide and just gives me the land I need to set up. By the end of his turn 4 I flash in Exarch, tap a red land for any shennanigans, and bust the Twin on my fourth turn for the win. The deck is that consistent and that sick. He didn't even interact with me at all and two games in row I go off on turn 4 without a hitch. Boros, or any aggressive strategy is garbage against a deck that will kill on turn 4. Damn. Austin is a good kid and getting incrementally good at the game at a very fast rate. He has graduated from Weenie White strategies to a more thinking man's aggro deck in Boros. Last time I faced him he was rocking Quest and I scooped to a turn 2 Argentum armor. So you can see why I wanted to draw.

5-0 / 10-3

We wait around for a bit and it turns out I do get first place being the only undefeated. Although Austin and decided he'd give me the win I still whooped his ass pretty good. And I feel good that I earned that last win. Even if we drew I'd still be first place I think. Do note that the ringers, i.e. guys with sick 1900 - 2000 ratings, were not there. But I think it wouldn't have mattered because ExTwin is the real deal. I go up to get my prize and I see the foil Squadron Hawk but I also see a buy-a-box Surgical Extraction. I take the rare of course and give Austin two packs, which I think is a good deal. What if he packed a fucking Batterskull!!! LOL.He was happy with that. I don't recall what he or I packed but it was a good night of Magic regardless and it feels good to be first place again. It has been a long time.

Hopefully next time some more Standard decks, some Legacy decks, talks about Overextended and modern and trying to get on Crazy Talk. What up?

"If you tap out or try to play any spell, YOU'RE DEAD."

A Tribe Called Quest Documentary Trailer


I gotta see this! ATCQ has been my shit since '89 or some shit. This looks like the hotness...

Quick aside on Michael Rappaport the director of the documentary:

my wife saw him jacking off in a parking lot when she lived in LA. Or she thought it was him. LOL jk