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.

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