The woes of tiny metagames, part 2

deathrite banner 2This isn’t really a continuation of my previous post, The woes of tiny metagames from last year, but it does have some connections, prompting me to use the name. First of all, both that post and this post are about tournaments small enough to be decided by four rounds. Second of all, I played Team America in both tournaments. Thirdly, they focus on strange things that happen when metagames turn too small.

hymntotourach3.hqAfter the banning of Dig Through Time, I was excited to return to form and play some more Legacy. Since no decks could easily just draw the best two out of the top seven for UU, I figured Hymn to Tourach was again playable, but I was too out of touch with the metagame in general to judge how good it was. It wasn’t by the way, but that wasn’t because I failed to properly read the Decks to Beat section on The Source. It was because I played in a small, four-round tournament in a local metagame.

My list for the day: Good Old America, on TappedOut.net.

Here are my matches, in order:

Round 1: LED-Dredge (W 2-1)

Round 2: Reanimator (W 2-1)

Round 3: Manaless Dredge (W 2-1)

Round 4: Grixis Delver (W 2-1)

Semifinals: Reanimator (not the same guy as Round 2) (L 0-2)

In short, 40% of the decks in the room were graveyard-based combo decks, meaning my sideboarded Surgical Extractions and Tormod’s Crypt were awesome all day. I won’t do a complete report, since my notes are bad and it’s hard to remember details from such similar matches. However, here are some fun facts and weird things that happened during the day:

  • I didn’t win a single game one over the entire day. Obviously my main deck needs work but the side board was awesome.
  • I lost all die rolls except against my round three opponent. How ironic.
  • My Delver of Secrets failed to flip for six (6!) turns in a row against my round 2 opponent.
  • I beat an active Iona, Shield of Emeria in round 2.
  • The same guy animated a Griselbrand on the first turn of the first game of that round. Even though I had Force of Will in hand.
  • I got to live the dream by going turn one Deathrite Shaman into turn two Hymn to Tourach + Wasteland against Grixis Delver. Yeah, got there that game.
  • Against Manaless Dredge, there was a point where I had Surgical Extraction in hand, and could aim it at either Golgari Thug, Phantasmagorian or Bridge from Below. I was pondering the dredger, to stop him from dredging and forcing another end-of-turn discard, but there’s always the chance that he has a Street Wraith sandbagged, and I elected to take the Bridges. “Three bridges in hand?” I almost said in jest, and in retrospect, I should have made the call. He did, in fact, have all the three other Bridge from Below in hand, making my Surgical Extraction a three-for-one. Once in a lifetime.

All in all, I had a good day, even if the semi finals wasn’t anything to talk about. He beat me game one through second turn reanimation with counter back up, and I mulled to five in the second game and didn’t stand a chance. Variance was high all day, one could say.

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The most important tournament

savage punch banner

“Ah, double-bear. Two punches!”

Prelude
I really hate it when bloggers apologise for not writing, so I won’t. I’ve just been busy. Work is kicking my ass, and this Saturday happened to be really special, out of nowhere. Around 7:30 in the morning, I was walking the dog as usual, wearing my pyjamas and hoodie as normal. I turned  a corner and spotted one of my friends. And then another friend. And another. And they were all wearing backpacks.

I was a bit perplexed. “Um… hi?”

“Just going to a tournament, nothing to see here, one of them said.”

“Right. I think I’ll go upstairs and change into my jeans.”

Foto 2015-07-22 21 03 20I have alluded to my fiancée on this blog before, so I was expecting a bachelor party at some point, but we don’t get married until September 12th, so this was a bit early. Half an hour later, fourteen people stormed my apartment, all wearing white tabards, carrying wooden swords and shields – each with an individually painted blazon. I can’t possibly explain how cool this was in words. Pictured to the right is my shield, a bit battle scarred. The reds and blues are from my association when I was working for the Student Union, the golden crown was because it was my bachelor party. Others had shields with griffons, trees, castles, unicorns and so on, each hand painted, each unique. Very cool!

You will know one of the members of the bachelor party from this blog – Grim Lavamancer, who does our very own webcomic, was apparently instrumental in developing the bachelor party, and he was the most vocal in introducing me to my bachelor party and instructing me to fill out my character sheet:

Foto 2015-07-22 21 08 38

 

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but it looks just like a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet. Also very cool.

I got to choose from a variety of items to supplement my tabard and shield, and I chose, among other things, a pair of leather bracers, a pair of indoors slippers, a fedora, an Iron Maiden poster flag worn as a cape, and likely more belts than was needed (you get extra cool points if you wear lots of belts). All kitted out, I was ready for my first challenge.

Round 1 – buying tobacco without ID
My friends took away things like my mobile phone, my wallet, my snus (Swedish tobacco) and other necessities, so my first challenge was to buy snus without ID. I do often hear I look young, and even if I’m only a couple of hundred days away from my 30th birthday, I frequently get carded for these things, as if I was still under 18. My friends had apparently instructed the cashier to be tricky and ask for ID as well.

I got some money from a random stranger outside – a plastic yellow glove full of coins – and headed inside the store. After a brief run-in with the cashier, I ask my friend for my character sheet, and display clearly that my occupation says “Teacher”, meaning the length of my education means I am of at least 23 years of age. It worked, and I won. The picture below is from just after leaving the store, when I hit level 2 from clearing the challenge.

1-0.

I was tossed into a car, to be taken to my next assignment. In the car, I was given instructions on how to play a variety of Magic cards that I had been given on the morning:

Foto 2015-07-22 21 07 36

Squire was my most used card over the day and easily the best in my pool.

In order to cast these cards, I had to drink a small vial of beverage corresponding to a different colour of mana – Malibu and milk for white, Jack & Coke for black, raspberry soda and vodka for red and so on. White was by far the best, meaning upkeeping Squire every hour wasn’t bad.

Round 2: “Magic” tournament
I was taken to my old work place where my friends had made breakfast and set up a table to play “Magic” as they called it. It was, in fact, the Pokémon card game, but I have played that too, and I helped explain the rules for anyone who wanted to challenge me. Grim Lavamancer argued that, since my gambling skill was so high on my character sheet, I ought to start with an extra card. I also had a bunch of other, custom, cards to help me out, three examples detailed below:

Foto 2015-07-22 21 08 16

All the custom cards features art with me in it, or things referencing me. Despite these powerful custom cards and starting off with an extra card, I only managed a 4-2 result in the “Magic” tournament. I still had a blast playing that damn game though!

5-2.

Round 3 – Ynglingaspel
Ever since reading the medieval novels of Jan Guillou, I’ve joked about having an “ynglingaspel” (lit. youth games), an occurrence among upper-class youth in old medieval Sweden. Ynglingaspel is basically a series of physical challenges, pitting the groom-to-be against his single friends (youths), competing over a crown of gold. Examples of these challenges are horse-back joust with bags instead of lances, axe throwing, and archery.

I had my own ynglingaspel in the park on Saturday, and we competed in spear throwing, archery, and many other activities. By this time, I had upkeeped Squire maybe one too many times, and hitting targets was tricky as all hell. Around the half time of the games, my friend’s girlfriend showed up, wearing a medieval dress, and serving Swedish-style tacos – my favourite dish.

Of course, since it was my bachelor party, everyone folded in the end, when the final game was “kontorstrams” (lit. “goofing around in the office”), a sport where your goal is to throw a tennis ball at a door and have it roll back to you, lest you suffer penalty. I am the world’s first world champion in this glorious sport, and this was the last time we’ll ever play it. I won, and thus, I will remain world-champion for as long as I’ll live. Huzza!

6-2.

Drawing into T8, we moved the bachelor party to a rented hut outside town. It was huge, with enough cots and beds for all of us to stay. There, we had dinner, and I was faced with my last challenge – breaking a pinata covered in my final temptation, pictures of ladies of popular culture who I have described in the same sentence as the words “free” and “card” before. I didn’t hesitate, and killed the box with my warhammer.

7-2.

Inside the box was a key to another box, and in that box was a USB stick with something too cool to share here right now, and a pair of boxers where all my friends had written good luck wishes, jokes, references to our youth and so on. It was really touching, actually. Inside was also another Magic card – namely this one:

Foto 2015-07-22 21 08 278-2.

Thanks so much, you guys!

 

Reaching Threshold at FNM

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I’ve been missing FNM’s a lot lately, my job takes a lot of time, my fiancé and I are planing our wedding, and we’re in the process of relocating. Through some miracle, however, I managed to get away Friday evening this week to play the local FNM, and this week was Legacy. I chose to bring Canadian Threshold (which you might call RUG Delver, if you’re wrong).

My list can be found here on TappedOut.net. In short, it’s bog standard RUG, it’s my favourite competitive deck of all time, and I chose to play Nimble Mongoose this time, over Hooting Mandrills, partly because of nostalgic reasons, and partly because I think Nimble Mongoose is viable. I also knew we’d have at least one Miracles player and at least one Grixis Delver player, so Shroud would come in handy.

deathriteshaman.hqRound 1: Punishing Jund. Usually, Jund is a pretty terrible match-up, and I lost against this player last time we played, but for budgetary reasons, he doesn’t play with Tarmogoyf, meaning his deck is a bit slower than usually. That said, out of all the green decks in Legacy not named Elves, I think Punishing Jund is the one that can most easily replace Tarmogoyf with Scavenging Ooze and other cards promoting a grindy game plan. In game one, he mulligans to six and stumbles a bit on mana. These are situations where Canadian Threshold shines, and I outrace a 6/6 Scavenging Ooze for the win, about a turn before he would’ve stabilized.

In game two I have to tripple-counter a Dismember targeting my Tarmogoyf since I have only soft counters in hand, no other threats and no cantrips to look for some. Dismember did get countered, and Tarmogoyf went the distance while I burned his potential blockers.

Round 2: Sneak and Show. This match was pretty miserable, honestly. I mulligan to five in game one, mulling a 5-land, 2-soft counters hand first, and a 0-lander second, and I keep a hand of land, threat, 2 cantrips and a soft counter. He goes turn one double Lotus Petal, land, Show and Tell. I put in a land, he puts in Emrakul.

I board into lots of countermagic over some burn spells and win game two off of a single Nimble Mongoose while drawing more or less only countermagic.

In game three, he plays a turn two Blood Moon with Force of Will back up. GG.

delverofsecrets.hqRound 3: Grixis Delver. I lose game one after getting Wastelanded out, but I turn it around and win two quite exciting, close games. He had some awesome cards like Dig Through Time and Tasigur, but Nimble Mongoose was difficult for him to handle. I almost bought it when he two-for-one’d me with Engineered Explosives blowing up a Nimble Mongoose and an unflipped Delver of Secrets, but I topdecked better than him and won the long Delver mirror this time.

2-1 was good enough for second place on tiebreakers, and I walked away with a promo and a booster for my troubles. I also traded for a new EDH project I’m working on. All in all, a really sweet evening.

Deck Spotlight: Modern RUG Delver

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Story time: A few years back, my friends and I were attending Borås Spelkonvent (BSK, lit. Borås Gaming Convention), a gaming convention with Magic events traditionally focused on the eternal formats. Although I don’t consider Modern to be an eternal format, they had scheduled one on Saturday morning anyway, when there was nothing else to do.

After losing in the quarterfinals to Show and Tell combo with RUG the night before, I was done with Legacy for the evening and my friends and I went to the apartment we had borrowed for the weekend to brew me a Modern deck. With not a lot of cards in our disposal, I decided to play RUG Delver in Modern as well, and this is what we came up with:

4 Misty Rainforest
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
2 Breeding Pool
6 Island
2 Forest
1 Mountain

4 Delver of Secrets
4 Snapcaster Mage
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Young Pyromancer

4 Serum Visions
3 Gitaxian Probe
2 Spell Snare
3 Mana Leak
2 Cryptic Command
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Burst Lightning
1 Izzet Charm
1 Electrolyze
2 Vedalken Shackles

SB:
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
3 Threads of Disloyalty
4 Ancient Grudge
2 Combust
4 Blood Moon

We did do some testing in the very early hours of the morning after I had sleeved the deck up, but the testing was done exclusively against my friend’s UWR control deck, and I concluded that the deck was a) awful against his deck, but b) the deck fared much better with Thrun and Blood Moon in the main deck. I pondered putting them in the main deck, but decided against it in the end.

My matches, in short:

Round 1 – Mono-B Pox, 2-1

Round 2 – Twin, 2-1

Round 3 – 4C Deathrite, 2-0

Round 4 – Tron, 2-1

Round 5 – Pod, ID for 1st place, half a box and a break for some food.

My friend was royally pissed and after the obligatory rounds of high-five, we went and played a real format (Legacy) instead. I didn’t win that tournament. I only won the tournament where I didn’t care about the format, the deck or the prize pool (Theros boosters, which we mini-mastered on site). So why am I even typing this.

It’s not just the bragging, a year or so later a deck called Blue Moon surfaced, meaning it took the rest of the format a year to figure out that Blood Moon is bonkers when everyone is greedy and playing 15+ non-basics in their lists. It was a good time, even if Blue Moon fell off the radar pretty quickly.

Get with the times,  and friends!

Rending worlds at DTK prerelease (not really)

dragons of tarkir banner

And so, it was finally time for the much-anticipated Dragons of Tarkir prerelease, and though I planned to win this tournament, I was thwarted by a few things, mainly the fact that the TO had decided that the tournament is to begin at 1 PM, even though we were 40 players and six rounds of swiss awaited us, and the date coincided with the anniversary of my engagement, meaning I had less time than some at the tournament to finish.

In either case, I had preregistered Atarka way before the set was spoiled and I was pleased to see the spoilers dropping in. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa writes in his prerelease primer that Atarka is the best clan of the bunch, another thing I was very pleased to see.

denprotector.fullThe pool I opened wasn’t very exciting, however. It wasn’t bad per-se, but I’ve opened much better ones. Den Protector was my prerelease rare, not the best of the bunch, but certainly better than for example Atarka’s Command. What struck me about the pool is that it contained only a single dragon, a Belltoll Dragon. This is the set that is supposed to have a higher as-fan of Dragons than any other before it, and I couldn’t really see that. I got some dragon tribal cards, like Dragonlord’s Servant, and Draconic Roar but nothing near any on-colour dragons.

I built a pretty straight-forward RG Aggro deck, but since I opened both Reach of Shadows and Tasigur, the Golden Fang in my Fate Reforged pack, I splashed black for those two cards. Notice how the only mana-fixing I opened was the R/G gain land in the same pack. Fate Reforged was good to me!

The entire deck with the pool, minus the basic lands I opened, can be found here. I won’t go into much more detail, white had an excellent rare, but was too shallow to begin with. Black had a couple of good cards and was the deepest of the three non-Atarka colours, but lacked the good creatures to be viable as a second colour over green (red was already decided given the burn spells I opened), and blue had a bad Mythic Rare and some of the worst commons in the two sets.

In my first game, I played against another Atarka player and my mana curve’s wonkyness came back to bite me hard. I got stuck on four lands for a long time in both games one and two, with multiple five-drops in hand. For game three, I mulliganed to five before seeing two lands, and kept a pretty bad hand, but my opponent was playing cards like Sight of the Scalelords and Sheltered Aerie so I won anyway.

In the second game, I faced off against Silumgar splashing white for Pacifism, and won very quickly since he had some issues with his mana in the second game. My mana was perfect in both games, thank Atarka.

illusorygains.fullThe third game was the most exciting by far, again against Silumgar with a bunch of annoying 3/6’s and the ever annoying Illusory Gains (which he drew in all three games). I won a very tight first game through Salt Road Quartermasters moving both his counters onto Stampeding Elk Herd and Hardened Berserker and hitting him for exactly lethal through his blockers thanks to Formiddable, while he had me on lethal with fliers. Phew. I scooped a rather close but clearly in his favour board state in the second game to make time for the third.

I drew a great opener in the third game, but time was running low and time was called after just a couple of turns. We had had a lunch break of an hour before the third round, meaning the time was now like 5:30, and I was already late for dinner with my better half. As such, I scooped to my opponent even though there was no way he could get the win.

He eventually went on to win the entire tournament, going 5-0-1, which was all well and fair since he probably had one of the best decks in the room. 2-1 for myself isn’t stellar, and I wish I had had the time to play the deck for a few more games, but I got jealous seeing everyone else opening their shiny Dragonlords. The guy opposite me during deckbuilding was Kolaghan and opened Atarka in one of his boosters and elected to not even splash her. How rude!

Mokeying around at local FNM

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I’m currently coming down with a cold, and the cold forced me to cancel my much-anticipated Magic-related plans, which sucks, however, it did allow me to play in the local FNM this week, which happened to be Legacy. At first I was excited to try Canadian Threshold with Hooting Mandrills, but I got cold feet and was about to sleeve up Team America instead. Fortunately, my friend saved me when he texted me and asked to borrow my Underground Seas and a few other cards, which settled me on Canadian Threshold. My list mirrored the one I proposed when I discussed adding Hooting Mandrills to the deck, and it can be found in this post. I ended up playing three monkeys and a Fire // Ice in the flex slot.

Eight people showed up, which meant three rounds of sweet Legacy. The metagame breakdown was as follows:

1 Canadian Threshold (me)
2 Elves
1 Merfolk
1 ANT
1 Punishing Jund
1 DeathBlade
1 Grixis Delver

Round 1: Grixis Delvergurmagangler.full
I first thought I was up against Sneak and Show, since that is my opponent’s usual deck, though he has played both RUG and BUG Delver in the past. I keep a disruption-heavy hand to be able to counter his early bombs, but with no beater. His first land is a Volcanic Island, but quickly followed by a Delver of Secrets. I deny him mana while I cantrip into a removal for his threat, and I win on the back of my own Delver of Secrets, after drawing like three Stifles.

I board out Force of Will in favor of Pyroblasts.

In game two, he Thoughtseizes me and takes a Tarmogoyf while leaving Hooting Mandrills in hand. This comes back to bite him, quite literally, when I cast the monkeys on turn three, for a single mana, while leaving up mana to Stifle his stuff. The monkeys go all the way. Woo!

1-0 (2-0)

After scooping, he reveals his secret tech – Gurmag Angler! Clearly, the inferior Delve creature compared to its monkey cousins, but still very respectable.

 

Round 2 – Merfolktrue-namenemesis.full
I think this match-up is pretty unfavourable. but in game one, I get a pretty good start. I drop a Delver of Secrets who flips instantly, and I play a second one on my third turn. Meanwhile, he has a Master of the Pearl Trident, and a couple of Mutavaults. He also casts a Phantasmal Image and copies my flipped Delver of Secrets. I cantrip looking for removal for his flier, but find none, and reason that I’m the beatdown since he has all the inevitability in the world. I offer the trade and he takes it. My second Delver of Secrets refuse to flip, showing a Polluted Delta twice in a row, and after he casts both a True-Name Nemesis and a second Master of the Pearl Trident, he swings for 16 in a single turn. Ouch.

I board in Pyroblasts yet again, along with Krosan Grip in case he has Back to Basics.

I get a great start in the second game and he stumbles a bit with what looked like a clunky draw. I win quite quickly with Hooting Mandrills. Woo!

In game three, he keeps a greedy one-lander, and I again get a pretty damn good start, and win with Hooting Mandrills again. Woo!

2-0 (4-1)

Round 3 – Punishing Jund
Okay, yet another quite miserable match-up. Games one and two are fairly uneventful, I open a hand of two removals and five lands and ship it, find no lands in either my six or five, and he wins the first game with little struggle. I board in Submerge, and win game two fairly easily on the back of a good draw and some monkeys. Woo!

Game three is very grindy, and grindy games favour him a lot. I probably make a mistake when I let Abrupt Decay destroy my last threat, a flipped Delver of Secrets, while sitting on two Submerges and no cantrips. Using one of the Submerges to keep the pressure up seems like a really bad idea, but on the other hand, I had no other out to win the game. A few turns later, after some more grind, he drops Choke, with no response from me. I have to topdeck into more lands to cast creatures, and after he trades down 2-for-1 twice against my Hooting Mandrills with block + burn, I’m out of gas and he wins through a Deathrite Shaman.

Losing such a close game is always a bummer, but it was a very close game with some very exciting final turns. He was down to less than five life when I died.

2-1 (5-3)

2-1 meant second place, and after two fairly difficult match-ups and a Delver mirror, I can’t be too sad. The MVP for the night were definitely Hooting Mandrills, and I think I will try the full set over True-Name Nemesis next time. Multiples were never an issue, and it’s a very good beater.

Monkeys for life.

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Falcon Punching F13NM

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Perhaps playing a high-variance game on Friday the 13th isn’t the best thing to do, but yesterday was Fate-Khans-Khans FNM at the local card shop, and I wasn’t going to miss it come hell or high water, or unlucky incidents.

Temur has long been my favourite clan on Tarkir. I really love most of the art on the cards, the wintery scenes are just fantastic, and I like most of the lore surrounding the clan. The Temur are nomadic, but out of necessity – contrary to Mardu, who seem to be nomadic on account of being too lazy to build more than a single city. During my latest big sealed event, I really wanted to play Temur, and I opened an Icy Blast as my first rare, but the pool, in the end, was a lot more Mardu than Temur. I did 6-0 the swiss and end up in the T4, so I can’t complain about the pool, but missing out on Temur was a bit of a bummer.

In drafts, I usually lean towards drafting aggressive decks with low curves in this format. So many people draft lots of the gain lands and durdle around with their mana in order to play bomby rares from every clan they can pick up, meaning having a two-color aggro deck (like WR or BW) punishes these strategies very effectively, and it sometimes just nets free wins. Preying on people stumbling on mana is awesome in a format where people often play three colours, and sometimes even four or five.

savagepunch.fullLast night, however, I had a goal in mind. I was going to draft Savage Punch! My idea was to cast a turn three Alpine Grizzly or Gore Swine, Savage Punch their morph and hit them for 6, or Temur Battle Rage when they block my 4/x with their morph. I opened Sandsteppe Mastodon in my Fate Reforged pack, which was otherwise quite weak with no better uncommon, so I shrugged and drafted it although it has been written off by many limited experts. I think it can be quite good anyway, ten power for seven mana, often distributed over two creatures, is quite good in my opinion. I followed up by picking some more green and red cards that don’t necessarily commit me to the Falcon Punch deck, Temur SabertoothHunt the Weak (almost always feels quite good at least), an Outpost Siege and some great-to-decent blue cards, Aven Surveyor, Etheral Ambush, Cunning Strike etc. Only a single Temur Battle Rage, but I wasn’t too concerned – if my plan failed, I could perhaps fall back on just a generic Temur deck.

The Savage Punches didn’t come in Khans of Tarkir, however, and even though I didn’t pass a single one, I only ended up with two. In the end, the deck was a bit of a mess, half a Savage Punch deck, half a regular Temur deck –

snowhornrider.full

“The worst” of the five common tri-color morph creatures. Still pretty damn good!

1 Aven Surveyor
1 Mystic of the Hidden Way
1 Glacial Stalker
1 Summit Prowler
1 Ainok Guide
2 Alpine Grizzly
1 Temur Sabertooth
1 Pine Walker
1 Destructor Dragon
1 Sandsteppe Mastodon
1 Woolly Loxodon
1 Icefeather Aven
2 Snowhorn Rider

1 Crippling Chill
1 Temur Battle Rage
1 Barrage of Boulders
1 Bring Low
1 Outpost Siege
2 Savage Punch
1 Hunt the Weak

2 Rugged Highlands
2 Thornwood Falls
7 Forest
3 Mountain
3 Island

The land distribution might be incorrect, I left the basics in the shop’s land station. I lost in the last round to WR with a really low curve, when my mana didn’t cooperate. We played a couple more games after, and he beat me soundly again, despite my mana working properly, so the loss was well deserved. Only afterwards did I realise the irony that I played a durdly and slow deck with iffy mana and got beat by a low-curved two-color deck.

2-1 isn’t much to complain about, even though I missed prizes on tiebreakers (Friday the 13th indeed), but I still had a blast, I finally got to draft Temur towards the end of Khans’ lifespan, and Snowhorn Rider is such a boss.

falcon punch!

BW(r) Warriors in FKK draft – initial thoughts

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I drafted my first Fate Reforged-Khans of Tarkir-Khans of Tarkir draft today, and while I did 3-0 for first place, I won’t be writing much about the draft itself. We drafted at the new local store, which was nice, and there were some new faces there that I played against, which was even nicer. My first opponent was very young, probably around 12-13 years old, and had drafted a UR deck with lots of burn but quite few creatures, and I won quite handily 2-0. He wasn’t bitter and told me about his sweet Sliver deck, which, he ensured, could beat any deck of mine. I honestly really wish I shared his unadulterated enthusiasm for the game. Really.

In my second game, I faced off against Mardu, but while I had drafted small and efficient creatures, my opponent had drafted Mardu Banner and Lightning Shrieker. I don’t share the Limited Resources that the banners are that awful, but I probably wouldn’t pick any of them very high, at least not as long as I had an abundance of fivedrops to ramp into, with very few four- or three-drops – not that that is very likely in this format. I won 2-0 off the back of a mana flood on his point.

killshot.fullIn my third game, I won 2-1 against RG and the best card in my deck was Dead Drop, which is so, so good when you’re ahead on the board. The game I lost was the only game I dropped in the draft, and I did so without any Plains. I should’ve really mulliganed, in retrospect.

So, what did I draft? My deck can be seen here on TappedOut.net, and as you can tell, it’s not very good. I never expected to 3-0 with that deck, but somehow I did. The idea wasn’t to add red, or even to go BW from the start, but all the good removal kept getting passed, so I folded.

I want to expand upon BW(r) Warriors in Khans limited. I liked drafting that deck in triple-Khans, and it served me well today, even if I didn’t get any of the lords in Khans of Tarkir. I think that the deck might still be viable in Fate-Khans-Khans, and I wanted to look at some of the new additions the archetype.

First and foremost, Sandsteppe Outcast is a pretty neat addition to the archetype. I wouldn’t consider getting the +1/+1 counter unless I had played a turn two Cheif of the Scale prior, and even though the token it creates isn’t a Warrior, I think Sandsteppe Outcast enables the deck to go even wider, alongside Mardu Hordechief and other token generators in the format. Going wide is perhaps more dangerous these days with Pyrotechnics in the format, which did almost burn me (pun intended) today.

sultaiemissary.fullThe deck is blessed with two new common warriors in black, Alesha’s Vanguard and Sultai Emissary, and I happened to play both. Neither were fantastic, the latter does replace itself upon death and does provide crucial turn three Raids with Mardu Hordechief, but the manifested creature isn’t a Warrior, and the card itself is small for the cost. Alesha’s Vanguard is a Hill Giant with a cheaper Dash, and as such isn’t very great, but not entirely awful either.

Dashing Alesha’s Vanguard seems an awful turn three play, especially when that turn could’ve been used by casting a Morph instead, but Dash has the upside of being a cheap way to get the creatures into play with Haste for the surprise alpha strike in later turns. Those were the only times I used Dash, at any other point, Alesha’s Vanguard was basically a worse Unyielding Krumar, who I’ve actually grown to like quite a bit.

Lastly, white has Aven Skirmisher, who is a Warrior, but that’s about it. I wouldn’t play it unless I was really hurting for cheap Raid enablers, it’s just too small to be worth a card. I played Firehoof Cavalry in my deck as a Raid enabler, and was unhappy to do so, even if it can on paper deal some damage later on.

mercilessexecutioner.fullIn the uncommon slots, black has Mardu Shadowspear for a quasi-2/1 for B who can’t chump-kill Morphs. Pretty uninteresting, but what I said about Aven Skirmisher holds true for this as well. Battle Brawler, on the other hand, is pretty cool and has the ability to be a really dangerous two-drop as long as it’s on, but I see myself getting 2-for-1’d by blocking incorrectly at some point in the future and getting blown out by a removal on my only white or red permanent. It’s interesting, but strictly worse than some other two-drops available to the archetype, most notably the Chiefs. Lastly, black has Merciless Executioner, a functional re-print of Commander staple Fleshbag Marauder, who is pretty good on paper. It’ll chump block a lot of stuff in the format, and chances are you’ll have some 1/1 token hanging around to get whacked.

Finally, white has Mardu Woe-Reaper who I like quite a bit, presuming it comes down on turn 1. Getting in for 4-6 damage and then trading for a Morph is sweet for a single white mana. Chances are that won’t happen every time however, which is why I consider this in the same department as the rest of the cheap Raid enablers.

Going wide with Warriors is my way of doing it in FKK, with the deck a bit diluted with the new cards, I think splashing red for Ponyback Brigade and Trumpet Blast is the way to go. More drafting is definitely needed, though I really want to draft something non-black the next time I play.

Doing the digging again

dig through time banner

“All the card-filtering in the world” is what my round four opponent stated this Monday evening. And he was right. Yesterday, I played the very same deck I played last Monday, with no changes. This is rare, but my job has been kicking my ass lately, meaning I haven’t had any time to work on the deck properly.

Last week’s report, “Digging for Gold in Local Tournament

Link to the deck on TappedOut.

Gold Digger, 2014-11-24

4 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Arid Mesa
1 Academy Ruins
1 Karakas
3 Tundra
2 Volcanic Island
3 Island
1 Plains
1 Mountain

2 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Batterskull
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
2 Preordain
4 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise

4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Force of Will
3 Counterspell
2 Misdirection
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Pyroblast
1 Lightning Bolt

Sideboard:
2 Vendilion Clique
2 Flusterstorm
2 Hydroblast
1 Lightning Bolt
2 Pyroblast
2 Pyroclasm
1 Wear // Tear
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Grafdigger’s Cage

In retrospect, one change I really need to do is to cut the Lightning Bolt for a second Pyroblast. I was scared of running into non-blue decks in the local metagame and didn’t want the two dead cards in the maindeck. Three out of three decks last week was blue, three out of four this week was blue, maybe it’s time to face the facts. Next time. Not sure what I want in the sideboard slots then, since I have a spare if I cut the Lightning Bolts from the list entirely. Containment Priest seems nice.

15 players showed up this Monday, which meant four sweet rounds!

stoneforgemystic.hqRound 1: BW Blade: Man these games are grindy. The player in question has more or less designed his deck to beat up on various Delver decks, meaning I’m happy to not be on BUG Delver. In the first game he comes out strong through the gate and wins quite easily with a Dark Confidant with a Umezawa’s Jitte equipped. I found no removal other than Engineered Explosives which is awesome but too slow in this case.

I board out the Pyroblast and a number of Force of Wills for Pyroclasm, Wear // Tear and the Lightning Bolt. The second game is very grindy, he plays lots of creatures, but I have lots of countermagic and removal, and eventually we’re left with a board of him having only Umezawa’s Jitte and I have Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Guess who won.

We never had time to finish the third game. He was on his way with a turn one Deathrite Shaman into turn two Stoneforge Mystic finding Batterskull. He is left with a single land and the Deathrite Shaman untapped at the end of my turn three, and he tries to activate his Deathrite Shaman by targeting a land in my graveyard. I respond by casting Dig Through Time and eating it all up (remember kids, since Deathrite Shaman’s ability targets something, it uses the stack and can be responded to, contrary to traditional mana abilities.) I find a Swords to Plowshares for his Stoneforge Mystic, the end result being that he can’t play his Batterskull and he’s left with only the Deathrite Shaman in play. The game halts to a crawl, though, and neither of us are capable of winning in time.

0-0-1 (1-1)

sneakattack.hqRound 2: Sneak and Show: These games are rather painful, but I remember them in some detail. In the first game, I kept a hand of four lands, Stoneforge Mystic, Ponder, Force of Will since he took a mulligan. His opening six is the following: City of Traitors, Lotus Petal, Show and Tell, Griselbrand, Force of Will, Ponder. I’m not joking. I did draw the Swords to Plowshares on my first turn, but he found both Force of Will and a blue card on the first Griselbrand activation. Yeah, not winning that one, and not much to do there.

The second game is more even, I keep a hand full of countermagic, but I stumble on blue mana. He wins through Sneak Attack and it’s never really close.

This is the same guy as last week, by the way, putting me at a total of 1-1 against him with this deck.

0-1-1 (1-3)

shardlessagent.hqRound 3: Shardless BUG: This is the same Shardless BUG as last week, and the games were very similar to last week. I win on superior card selection, even through Liliana of the Veil‘s ultimate. It’s never really close, I do think the match-up favors my deck quite a bit. The play of the match was when I got to play Misdirection on his Ancestral Vision that he played the natural way. It was very unfair. I got to win game one with Jace and I won game two with Baneslayer Angel.

This too is an opponent from last week, though I’m 2-0 with this deck against his. I maintain the notion that my deck is very good against his until proven wrong, it’s a shame it has somewhat fallen out of favor lately.

1-1-1 (3-3)

senseisdiviningtop.hqRound 4: Miracles: The Gold Digger thread on the Source would lead some to believe that the match-up against Miracles is highly favorable, but I don’t think I agree just yet. Breaking out of a Counterbalance lock is very difficult, and he runs many control elements as well, and has great card selection in Sensei’s Divining Top. I win the first game on superior card selection, protecting my Jace from his double Pyroblast and double Snapcaster Mage while Jace happily ticked up to 13 and ultimated. He was close to stabilizing at one point, playing a Miracle’d Entreat the Angels for two while I had only Jace in play, with seven counters. I could bounce both of them over the course of two turns, but I’m left with a Jace with only one counter and need to start over, and even then he’s dead to any Flash creature. Like a pro, I topdeck the Engineered Explosives.

Game two, I board in extra Pyroblasts, Flusterstorm and Vendilion Clique and take out the bad removals. Game two is a repeat of the first, I expend my resources keeping his CounterTop lock off the board, including playing Force of Will on his Sensei’s Divining Top on turn 0, which I think is correct, since he mulliganed. My Dig Through Times allow me to pull ahead, and I win a long and grindy game by both playing Baneslayer Angel and Batterskull on the same turn. I had eight cards left in the library.

2-1-1 (5-3)

So, a rather modest, but winning, record this week as well. The deck still feels very solid, I think it’s more about the pilot in this case. I strongly believe I would’ve won round 1 if I had more time, I had stabilized the board and my spells are generally better than his in the long game. Round 2 was against the same guy I won against last week, but sometimes Sneak and Show just gets those freak draws that’s almost unbeatable. I just need to learn to play the deck tighter and quicker, knowing when to cast Dig Through Time for gas and when to save it (and thus see more cards in total) seems key, and I don’t have that down just yet.

MVP of the day was Engineered Explosives, which was slow but great all day. Two in the maindeck feels correct.

Digging for gold in local tournament

dig through time banner

Monday evening (a.k.a. “Magic Monday”) we played a small 8-man Legacy event at the LGC. Though I have done quite well with BUG Delver recently, I do still suffer from the same deck ADD as before, and since I have grown tired of saying “Trigger Delver” every upkeep, I wanted to give the UWR Dig Through Time list a try.

After trading for the third and fourth Dig Through Times at the LGC, I sleeved up the following deck:

Gold Digger – 2014-11-17

4 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Arid Mesa
1 Academy Ruins
1 Karakas
3 Tundra
2 Volcanic Island
3 Island
1 Plains
1 Mountain

2 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Baneslayer Angel
1 Batterskull
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

4 Brainstormdigthroughtime.full
4 Ponder
2 Preordain
4 Dig Through Time
1 Treasure Cruise

4 Swords to Plowshares
4 Force of Will
3 Counterspell
2 Misdirection
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Pyroblast
1 Lightning Bolt

Sideboard:
2 Vendilion Clique
2 Flusterstorm
2 Hydroblast
1 Lightning Bolt
2 Pyroblast
2 Pyroclasm
1 Wear // Tear
1 Supreme Verdict
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Grafdigger’s Cage

Link to the deck on TappedOut.net.

baneslayerangel.hqRegarding the list, the strangest inclusion might be Baneslayer Angel, but it has been doing quite well on Cockatrice, since UR Delver can’t deal with it, BUG Delver can’t deal with it, and it will race almost anything. The random one-ofs might seem strange at first, my reasoning behind the single Treasure Cruise is that it acts as the fifth Delve spell, and the reason behind the singleton Lightning Bolt and singleton Pyroblast was that I couldn’t decide on which one to run. The local metagame is usually fair with quite a few non-blue decks, so running some extra removal seemed nice. On the other hand, I wanted to have Pyroblast for brokeness in game one against the blue decks, and it is also extra removal against Delver of Secrets. In the end, I split the two, but put a second Lightning Bolt in the sideboard. The sideboard as a whole is very sketchy, in fact the deck itself is very unrefined – I’m not sure I want to play with Stoneforge Mystic, but Batterskull is really good against the aggressive strategies fueled by Treasure Cruise. I was playing three Stoneforge Mystic originally, but often found myself drawing two over the course of the game, so I was looking for things to cut for a second Batterskull, but found that almost every other card in the deck was better. In the end, I decided to cut one of the Stoneforge Mystics instead.

Eight players meant three rounds.

Round 1 – BUG Faeries. I was paired against the Aluren guy, and initially thought he was on Aluren again. This was false, apparently, as he won the roll, I mulliganed and he Stifle‘d my first fetch land. I drew another land the following turn, and he Spellstutter Sprite‘d my cantrip. He Spellstutter Sprite’d my second spell too. And my third. Bummer.

quickling.fullI boarded out something random, Misdirection and something else (I have no idea how to sideboard with the deck!) for the extra Bolt, the extra Pyroblasts, and Supreme Verdict. The second game was more or less a repeat of the first game, I did play around Stifle, but he kept blanking my removal with Quickling, and ended the game by responding to a Brainstorm with Notion Thief. It puts the notion in the basket, or else it gets the hose again. What a blow-out.

0-1 (0-2)

Complete bummer. Here I am, expecting a couple of freebies from playing a deck nobody knows about, and I get wrecked by this sweet brew that’s even further off the radar. The guy did trade me for the Dig Through Times, so I can’t be too mad, and he did play very well.

Round 2 – Shardless BUG. I’ve only played against the deck once online, and my initial thoughts are that the match-up is in my favor. I’m pretty sure Shardless BUG has fallen out of favor for most people since the printing of Treasure Cruise – after all, who wants to deal with the hassle of Ancestral Vision when you can have the same thing for a single blue, with no waiting time?

shardlessagent.hqMy assesment of the match-up proved correct in the first game. He Thoughtseize‘d my only cantrip on turn two which threw a wrench in my machinery, but I was able to weather the storm and get ahead on card selection. I actually countered Ancestral Vision with Counterspell, which was really nice. I won with Baneslayer Angel, which was even nicer.

I boarded out Misdirection and something else for more red blasts. I think it’s probably correct to bring in Vendilion Clique against him, to counter his planeswalkers, probably in exchange for Engineered Explosives. Game two was quite similar to game one, I countered an Ancestral Vision and a Liliana of the Veil early, and won through Batterskull after getting far ahead on card advantage.

1-1 (2-2)

The match-ups wasn’t perhaps indicative of how most games will play out, but my initial response holds true. It fells like Gold Digger seems much better at playing the control role than Shardless BUG, so as long as I can keep his beats off the table, it shouldn’t be too difficult. Abrupt Decay is more or less a complete blank against me, I have more outs to his Jace than he does to mine, and I have more ways to protect my Jace than he has to protect his.

sneakattack.hqRound 3 – Sneak and Show. I lose game one after he drops a turn two Show and Tell into Griselbrand. I have the Karakas and the correct play here is obviously to just activate it in his end step, forcing him to draw and then discard, and try to find another out. For some reason, I elect to not do that, and instead try to plow it in my turn. I remember my reasoning being along the line of forcing him to commit resources to the plow, putting him on low life totals, while I still have Karakas to respond to the demon. The trick didn’t work out.

I boarded out half of the Swords to Plowshares, the Lightning Bolt, the Engineered Explosives, and the Stoneforge Mystic package (including Academy Ruins) for the Pyroblasts, the Hydroblasts, the Vendilion Cliques, the Flusterstorms and the Wear // Tear. Games two and three were extremely similar. He opened both of them with a mulligan to six, and I won both with Vendilion Clique with five or six counterspells in hand. Neither were close nor interesting.

2-1 (4-3)

Very 50/50 result overall, but I’m very happy with how the deck played. The card selection is just awesome, Dig Through Time is insane, and I really love the fact that I get to play with so many copies of the good old Counterspell. There’s another one of these Magic Monday Legacy tournaments coming up, where I will surely play the deck again, and the next big Legacy tournament is in the first weekend of December. Getting a tuned list to then seems like a lot of work, so I will probably play Team America there, but we’ll see.