I was glad to see that Faeries didn’t win PT: Hollywood (see the top 8 decklists here: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgevent/pthol08/top8decks). First, it should quiet all those prone to panic who were calling for the banning of Bitterblossom or other components of the Faerie deck. Second, I want to play Faeries in Standard for awhile so hopefully the perceived “failure” of the deck in Hollywood will lead people to bring some of that hate out of their sideboard (or even their main deck, where some of it ended up) and free the skies for my little 1/1 tokens to do their thing.
We sold out of most of the key rare Faerie deck components on Saturday, long before the top 8 was settled. Apparently some people are still planning on playing Faeries at Regionals. It will be interesting to see if the level of hate we saw in Hollywood plays out across the rest of the country.
OK, I’ll state the obvious: Bitterblossom and Mutavault are hot. When was the last time we had two cards worth $30 each in the same set while the set was still Standard legal? With those plus Bosk, Colossus, Reveillark, and Crusher all $7+ each I’m thinking we’re going to see a lot of Morningtide packs cracked over the next couple of months, especially if Wizards does the right thing and reinstates States.
I think this will mean the rest of the set will drop in value as people accumulate way more than they need of the rest of the cards in the set. I don’t think it will affect prices on the cards I’ve named because demand is so high for those.
OK, as mentioned in my last post I finally completely buckled to netdecking and took Dragonstorm to Regionals. Usually I take an aggressive net deck and tweak it to my liking but there’s really no room left for tweaking Dragonstorm—the deck is pretty much set. The only difference is to the sideboard.
My sideboard was:
4 Ignorant Bliss (for discard, obv)
4 Repeal (for aggro)
4 Sulfur Elemental (for aggro and control—he’s so good!)
3 Trickbind (for the mirror)
Round 1 - Mark Claborne - RDW
Mark was playing a mono red aggro deck with the usual suspects plus Viashino Sandstalker, which I’d forgotten was even still legal. I game one he got me down to ten and I went off turn four. Game two I boarded in the Repeals and took the Gigadrowse out but went off turn four for five dragons after suspending two Blooms on turn one. OK, it’s confirmed, Dragonstorm is nuts.
Mark did get me down to eight in game two but even mono red isn’t fast enough to kill Dragonstorm.
Round 2 - Nathan Saunders - RG aggro
My old pal Nathan, packing Ohran Vipers and Rumbling Slum. His was a more traditional RG build with the Vipers and Stone Rain to hose all the multicolored decks running around. I foolishly kept a one land hand in game one but I did have Sleight of Mind, a source of blue, and two Blooms. Naturally I couldn’t find another land before Nathan blew up my first one and then I only found one more. He crushed me game one. Games two and three I found Dragonstorm. Sorry Nathan, what can I say, the deck is lucky. In all three games I started Bloom, source of blue, Sleight. That was good.
Round 3 - Levi Star - Zoo
Levi’s game one started like the games I used to have with Zoo. He couldn’t find a source of green to save his life. Three consecutive Sacred Foundry’s came out and his Kird Ape was left shivering and alone as a 1/1. That kind of thing happened to me way too often when I tried to play three color zoo. It’s the main reason I stopped playing the deck. Anyway, Kird Apes aren’t nearly as scary when they’re 1/1’s. I was having my own mana troubles after mulliganning twice and sticking with a four land hand consisting of four lands and a Hellkite. Eventually I did find some gas and the one Hellkite took out his team, then started swinging for five.
Game two Levi mulliganned once and then kicked my butt. He took 10 damage from his land but unfortunately for me he didn’t play any more shock lands untapped.
Game three he got me down to two before I finally combo’d out. He threw everything at me and I was just able to get dragons onto the table fast enough, by one turn.
Round 4 - Michael Greybeal - Angelfire
Michael had just beaten Peter Z so I was wary of him when we sat down. I had a good start but he Helixed me to go to 23. I played one Hellkite and started swinging but then he found another Helix and his Lightning Angels finished me off.
Game two I mulliganned once. He boarded in his full life gain, anti-Dragonstorm package and at one point actually Faith’s Fettered my Island to go to 27 life. I got a Hellkite out but he just picked me apart with angels and the 2/2 knights I was forced to give him with my Hunted Dragon.
Michael went on to win the whole thing so I guess Angelfire is still viable.
Round 5 - Michael Keith - Gruul
Michael was playing typical Gruul. Game one he played some critters and I comboed out. Sorry—tournament reports with Dragonstorm get a bit monotonous, don’t they? Game two in go the Repeals, out go the Gigadrowse. He tapped out to Skarrg a Tin Street Hooligan on turn three and I took it even though I had a Repeal in hand. I knew I could go off the turn after that and I wanted to goad him into tapping out for three points of damage again. He did and I bounced his man, leaving him tapped and me to take one damage from the Rusalka who was still on the table. Then I played dragons.
Round 6 - Josh Jones - Project X
This was the first round where the pressure really ramped up. I was at the top table and Josh and I knew whoever lost this round was probably out. I mulliganned once, he mulliganned twice and we both started fairly slowly. He did get an Elephant out there to go from 18 (after a shock land) to 22. But then my Bloom resolved and I sac’d it for Seething Song, Rite of Flame and —- oh crap. I had a Hellkite, not Dragonstorm in my hand! God, was I really that tired? Fortunately it still worked out. I played the Hellkite and killed all his creatures, then swung for five at a time. Man I was mad at myself and bucked down for game two, thanking the Magic gods that I had won that game despite such a stupid misplay. I really thought I had Dragonstorm instead of the one lonely Hellkite in my hand. Apparently Starbucks macadamia nut cookies are hallucinogenic.
Game two he put in Persecute and it resolved for red. Ouch. That was pretty much it.
Game three I boarded in the Ignorant Bliss. I wasn’t sure if he’d gone for the discard package since Project X decks with the full Wish sideboard usually don’t have four of anything in their board. Game three they really shined though. He played Castigate and Persecute and I Blissed out of the way of both of them. I also had three Remands to stop his other business spells, including a Chord of Calling which he cast in response to me casting a Hellkite. Fortunately I’d waited to cast the Hellkite until I could leave U1 open because I figured he might have one more trick up his sleeve and he wasn’t in imminent danger of going off.
At this point, after six rounds, I was in third and I think I let myself start thinking that I might actually make Top 8. Big mistake.
Round 7 - Gerald Sixkiller - MBA/discard Rack
Gerald was playing a very fast mono black deck with Mindlash Sliver (!) and Cry of Contrition which combined for three discards in the first two turns. I had a great setup game one but watched as my precious acceleration got stripped out of my hand, followed by my Hellkite. I was waiting for Extirpate as the final insult but he was content to play two Racks and crush me the old fashioned way. Game two I put in the Ignorant Bliss but couldn’t find them in time. Again I had a pretty good start but soon my hand was empty and he was swinging with Bob and making me lose two or three a turn with the Rack.
Damn, that’s the way my mono black deck was supposed to work but it never quite worked out that way. His worked. Really well. Especially when you don’t have Ignorant Bliss.
I was really bummed. I thought I had a good chance at top 8 and a friggin mono black deck, of all things, seemed to have taken that away from me.
Round 8 - Carmen Ahmad - UWB control
Once again I had to mulligan game one. I had a slow start and could never find the card, you know, the one that starts with D? Telling Time twice, once for three land, once for two land and a Bloom. Land after land. I just couldn’t find any business spells. That is one danger of this little net deck.
Game two was much the same. I did get a Hellkite out but unfortunately I had to use him to block a 5/5 Aeon Chronicler. We played land, go for awhile but then he found COP: Red. Dang. I figured Gigadrowse would get me out of that problem but he played way more land than I did and I quickly lost the ability to even come close to tapping him out. I should have boarded in Trickbind against the COP but I didn’t and it cost me the game, the match, and any chance at top 8.
I finished 22nd out of 130+ players. Not that bad but compared to third after six rounds it was quite disappointing.
I’ve got to tell you, I really won’t miss Circles of Protection when they finally bow out in 10th Edition.
I’m going with Dragonstorm with a few minor variations from the net deck version (no details in case my future competitors are reading). I tried to make my mono black control deck work, I really did. I even splashed red for Sulfur Elemental and Dragonfire and even Void but nothing made that deck competitive. I lost too many games to Dragonstorm where they just randomly ripped a dragon off the top and won.
I like Project X with Glittering Wish but I think it’s got some issues, mainly that it’s vulnerable to some of the same hate which is floating around for other decks (Sulfur Elemental, Extirpate and especially Blood Moon and Magus thereof). I think it’s a very interesting deck concept and it’s a fun deck to play, but the Elemental in particular hosed me worse than I thought in test games. I could play around one since I’m only running one Soul Warden but two meant Saffi couldn’t hit the table long enough for me to sac her and that’s, as the kids say, Some Bad News. Even one Elemental turns off the Teysa alternate win condition.
I’m a RG player at heart but I don’t think Gruul can kill in turn four and it has no way to disrupt Dragonstorm before it does so. It’s also not a great matchup against Dralnu and can even have trouble against Pickles unless it gets a really fast start. RG does eat up those Bridge decks though so those of you packing the newest crazy combo deck beware of those first turn Kird Apes.
Good luck to all tomorrow!
I made it out to Friday Night Magic last night for the first time in weeks. I decided to play my tweaked version of Firemane Control:
4 Lightning Helix
2 Rise // Fall
4 Wrath of God
2 Adarkar Valkyrie
1 Akroma, Angel of Wrath
1 Angel of Despair
4 Firemane Angel
2 Orzhov Signet
2 Rakdos Signet
1 Debtors’ Knell
1 Faith’s Fetters
4 Phyrexian Arena
1 Blood Crypt
1 Caves of Koilos
3 Flagstones of Trokair
2 Gemstone Mine
4 Godless Shrine
1 Orzhov Basilica
1 Rakdos Carnarium
1 Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Sulfurous Springs
1 Urza’s Factory
4 Circle of Protection: Red
3 Sacred Ground
2 Shadow of Doubt
The two Shadow of Doubt in the board are for Dragonstorm but they need to come out for something else. This build does pretty well against Dragonstorm anyway with the main deck Castigate, Rise // Fall and Persecute and the COP: Red out of the board really help as well, especially if they’re not running Gigadrowse.
Round 1 - Russell Persons - UR Stuffy Doll combo
Russell had a horrible draw in game one. We both mulliganed once and then he literally drew nothing but land and Signets. All I knew at the end of game one is that he was playing red and blue. I played an Angel and he scooped.
Game two was much faster. I started playing Angels and he had a Stuffy Doll in play. I knew he had one Skred from an earlier Castigate but I hadn’t taken it out of his hand. Big mistake. He cast two Skreds and another burn spell on his Stuffy Doll and killed me in one turn.
Game three was closer to game one. He played some creatures but I got Debtors’ Knell in play and stole the Fortune Thief out of his graveyard. I know he had at least one Skred in hand but I attacked with Angels to win.
Round 2 - Stephen - Solar Pox w/Hakkon recursion
Stephen and I had a great time, cracking jokes and making obscure references throughout our match. He even knew who originally sang “Detachable Penis.” Don’t ask how that came up.
Game one I was stuck on three land and he eventually killed me with Court Hussars and a Hakkon. Game two—well, game two was an epic. It went back and forth for a long, long time. Every time one of us did something the other counteracted it. I got an Angel of Despair into play but I couldn’t get the Condemn out of his hand so I couldn’t attack with it. He found his own Angel of Despair and blew up my Debtors’ Knell, then I Wrathed both Angels away. He had three Court Hussars and a Hakkon to keep bringing them back but I Condemned Hakkon. I had two Phyrexian Arena’s in play and three Firemane Angels in the graveyard and was ripping through my graveyard. I eventually got enough mana out that I was bringing Firemane Angels back out of the graveyard but he found ways to kill them.
Eventually they called time in the round just as I was untapping. I drew my card. Akroma! He was at 8 life. I hard cast Akroma and attacked, then used the Helix I’d been saving forever to finish him off. I think the entire store was watching by then and there was much rejoicing when that crazy game finally ended.
Round 3 - Vikram - UR Suspend
Vikram admitted as we shuffled up that he was playing a preconstructed deck and said “You should have a good chance against me.” I told him not to be too sure.
By turn two of the first game he had suspended a Riftwing Cloudskate and a Keldon Halberdier. They both game into play on the same turn and he cast Clawss of Gix, then Empty the Warrens which created eight 1/1 tokens. I couldn’t find a Wrath of God in time and he crushed me without taking any damage.
I was a bit nervous after that showing but I figured with all the removal and hand disruption I could handle Empty the Warrens. I didn’t board anything although COP: Red was tempting. Fortunately I got off to a fast start and played a Phyrexian Arena. He looked at it and said, “Hmm, one life for one card. Seems like an OK trade but not great.” He was feeling his oats after that first game. I didn’t respond, I just let the card advantage power out some Angels and they killed him. Game three was much of the same, an early Arena followed by Rise // Fall and Castigate followed by Angels.
Round 4 - Jesus Molina - Magnivore
Every other time I’ve played against Jesus he’s been playing Boros so as we shuffled I was already thinking about how I was going to board for game two. I figured game one was a loss. When he played a turn one Island after we both mulliganed once I was quite surprised. He started blowing up my land on turn three and I never had much of a chance.
Game two, out went the discard and a couple of the more expensive Angels for COP: Red and Sacred Ground. I got Sacred Ground into play on turn two and COP: Red soon after and that shut off most of his deck. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any win conditions so we played a lot of “draw, go.” I eventually found a Firemane Angel and he Remanded it at least three times if not four. Eventually it stuck and then he started Wildfire’ing it away. Finally it stayed on the table and I beat him with a 13 point Demonfire while I was at 30 life.
Game three I kept a hand with five lands and two Mortify’s. I’m not sure keeping was the best decision but I figured some of the land would get blown up anyway and that would give me time to draw into something better. I was right. He destroyed three of my lands before I found Sacred Ground and a source of white to cast it with. I eventually found the COP: Red to top it off and started building to six mana. It took awhile but I got the mana and the Firemane Angel and started hitting for four a turn (with a Helix thrown in toward the end).
I wound up finishing second (there was one 4-0) out of 18 or so players. The deck did well but I think it would have more trouble in a faster environment. There were at least two other Solar Flare/Solar Pox type decks and at least three total Magnivore decks. Most of the decks were slow, controllish builds. One guy who went 3-1 had main deck Blood Moon and he laid waste to much of his opposition just by playing Blood Moon on turn three. Seeing that in action I decided to take out the Shadow of Doubt’s and put the fourth Sacred Ground and third Disenchant in the board for the next version of this deck.
My day started out where last Saturday left off when I parked the car, started walking to where the tournament was being held, reached for my wallet and realized that I’d left it at home. Stupid! So I had to rush back home and then rush back downtown. Fortunately I’d left in plenty of time so I had enough time for this unplanned round trip. I was hoping it was the start of one of those great stories, like “I almost didn’t make it to States but I’m glad I did because I wound up winning.” Unfortunately the day didn’t go quite that well.
I went with this build. If I had another chance I’d probably play a more controlling deck, maybe that RWB deck I’ve been toying with. Wrath of God is just so good, especially at States (or Champs or whatever).
4 Dryad Sophisticate
4 Gruul Guildmage
3 Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
4 Kird Ape
4 Magus of the Scroll
4 Ohran Viper
4 Call of the Herd
3 Seal of Fire
2 Karplusan Forest
2 Scrying Sheets
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
6 Snow-Covered Forest
8 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Blood Moon
4 Krosan Grip
3 Thornscape Battlemage
4 Tormod’s Crypt
Round 1 - Dennis Hixon - UG aggro
Dennis was sporting the new Flores flavor of the month. From my testing it seemed like my deck owned UG but I was still nervous about the explosive +5/+5 Invocation or the multiple Cloak on a creature I couldn’t target. Game one, round one my worst fear happened: my opening grip included two lands and they were both Scrying Sheets. The two Scrying Sheets in the deck. That had only happened once in all my testing. Naturally I had to ship that back and kept a hand with no Forests. Unfortunately I never did find a source of green and he put a Cloak on a Looter and spashed for four until I was dead (naturally I couldn’t find burn either).
Games two and three opened with him playing Llanowar Elves and me blowing them up with a Seal of Fire. It was downhill for him in both games after that as my critters and burn finished him off.
Round 2 - Romain Hughes - Zoo
Romain is another one of those guys who I just can’t seem to beat. I’m not sure I’ve ever beaten him and I think I’ve faced him in 90% of the major tournaments I’ve attended.
Romain got the textbook Zoo draws in both games. Turn one Kird Ape, turn two Scab Clan Mauler, turn three another Mauler and he just crushed me. Again in game one I couldn’t find a source of green (apparently 12 in the deck just wasn’t quite enough) and I didn’t present much of a threat. Game two wasn’t any better.
As I told Romain, if I could get Zoo to perform that well I would have run it. I always seem to get color screwed with that deck.
Round 3 - Marcus Ledesma - RBW weenie
Marcus had an interesting deck full of one casting cost creatures like Kill-Suit Cultist and Shadow Guildmage. He’d hit a creature with the Guildmage and then finish it off by sacrificing the Cultist, then bring the Cultists back by forecasting Proclamation of Rebirth. This was a game I really wish I had Wrath of God or even Pyroclasm.
Game one we battled back and forth with lots of creatures in play and lots of creatures dying on both sides. He finished me off first. Game two I got a very fast start and rolled over his little creatures. Game three took a long time and I drew a lot of land. Really too much land. He must have forecasted Proclamation about 15 times and kept picking off my creatures. After drawing many land in a row I finally found a Demonfire and had a Magus in play. He was at 13. I was going to be able to burn him out next turn if the Magus stayed in play but he ripped a Lightning Helix off the top, both killing my threat and bringing himself out of burn range with one spell. I was at two after he swung with two weenies and I had to use the Demonfire to kill his Magus. Unfortunately I couldn’t draw anything else and he finished me.
I really feel like I should have won this game. I think if I’d seen the Proclamation in such extensive use in one of the first two games I would have boarded in Tormod’s Crypt. I just didn’t think it was that much of a threat. I still would have won if I’d have had a better balance of spells and land in that third game.
Round 4 - Ricky Fok - UWG control
In game one I got an early Magus and, once again, couldn’t find a Forest. I was stuck with two Vipers in my hand but the Magus kept picking him off. Eventually after about 100 turns of him playing a land and saying go he played two Sky Swallowers and finished me quickly. I had him down to six but the Magus could have used a little help.
In game two I actually played smart. I had a couple of early creatures in play and a Blood Moon and a Dryad Sophisticate in hand. He missed a land drop or two and couldn’t counter two things at once. I waited until I had five land in play (thank goodness I didn’t miss a land drop) and played the Sophisticate, hoping he would counter it. He did. I played Blood Moon. He scooped.
Game three I finally had the fast start. Two 2/3 Kird Apes were in play on turn two and they rolled to a quick finish.
Round 5 - Jared Shoup - BW Shadow
I had Savage Twister in my board for awhile just because of this deck (I sure wish I’d had it against that weenie deck!). In game one he Castigated my Call of the Herd, which was quite unfriendly, but otherwise my bigger creatures beat up on his.
Game two I boarded in the Battlemages again (those really did well all day) and they had fun killing a Soltari Priest and some other creatures. It was a back and forth battle but I was able to damage faster than he was. Go big green!
Round 6 - Nelson Dees - RW Firemane control/Searing Meditation
Nelson had just beaten Peter and Nelson had seen me watching the match. “Now you can get revenge for Peter!” he said as we sat down. I told him it would be patently obvious what I was playing very soon after we started and that this was a bad matchup for me. I drew my seven, played an untapped Stomping Grounds and showed him the Kird Ape. “See?” I said and he didn’t seem too scared of the monkey.
I played guys and he stalled at three land. My guys killed him quickly before he hit Wrath of God mana (he had “multiple” wraths in his hand). Game two I played more guys and this time he was totally mana flooded. He played a Firemane Angel but I banished it with a Demonfire. He mainly drew land and I kept swinging with creatures.
Round 7 - Michael Cardan - Boros
Michael was playing prototypical Boros, complete with the Skynight Legionnaire (although I didn’t see any Boros Swiftblades, I think he replaced those with Soltari Priest). Game one was an old fashioned prizefight. He beat on me, I beat on him, but he killed me first after I had him down to six. Game two he just drew burn spell after burn spell and had the cohones to throw them all at my dome rather than going after my creatures. I had him down to five but he burned me out.
The whole match took, literally, less than ten minutes. I think it was more like five.
Another mediocre showing at States, but it was certainly much better than I did at the PTQ. Maybe next year.
I’ve been testing variations of blue/black for the upcoming Standard season and I think even with all the Timeshifted goodies in Time Spiral, it’s just too slow. The biggest problem is that there’s no mass removal for blue or black right now. The closest there is is Evacuation and that costs five, and it doesn’t actually solve the problem. If you cast it turn five your opponent is just going to replay half of those spells. If you wait to play it later you’ll probably find yourself dead. A simple turn one Kird Ape presents significant problems for BU. You can bounce it or kill it but often you’ve taken eight or ten damage before you do that. This is one build I’ve been tinkering with. It does pretty well against everything except RG gruul or snow-aggro (both of which I expect to see at States), along with some thoughts on possible changes. Build it if you must but I think it’s going to be too slow. Creatures (12) ————– 4 Dimir Cutpurse 4 Hypnotic Specter 4 Shadowmage Infiltrator Spells (26) ———- 4 Boomerang (awesome with Cutpurse, Hippy and Funeral Charm) 4 Funeral Charm (instant speed discard plus limited removal or even a finisher on a Shadowmage) 3 Mana Leak 4 Psionic Blast 4 Remand (great in this build) 3 Telling Time (I like this but I’m not 100% sold on it) 4 Whispers of the Muse Land (22) ——— 8 Island 6 Swamp 4 Underground River 4 Watery Grave Possible main board changes: 1) out: Cutpurse, in: ? Ravenous Rats? Withered Wretch? I’m not sure I like 12 creatures at the 3 spot in the curve but all three are so good 2) I’m intrigued by Deep Sea Kraken but I think it’s probably too slow 3) Lotus Bloom? I’m thinking you couldn’t quite sub in four of those for land since you’d need land early for permission or card draw. Maybe take out two land and two other cards? If so, what? 4) Cancel will probably go in for Mana Leak. I seem to always have UUB open except very early and there are a lot of decks which accelerate past the Mana Leak threshold. At this pioint I don’t have a hard counter and I think I need one. Sideboard (somewhat random at this point) —————————————– 3 Blackmail (for the control mirror match) 3 Flashfreeze (RG/snow aggro and the random creature decks which always show up) 3 Last Gasp (against snow aggro and boros) 2 Nightmare Void (also vs control) 4 Remove Soul (aggro) Possible cards for the board: 1) Withered Wretch 2) Tormod’s Crypt My next version is going to splash green for Coiling Oracle, Voidslime (instead of the Leaks) and Crime // Punishment, which hopefully will be the mass removal I’m looking for.
After at least a two month layoff I finally made it back to Friday Night Magic. I saw this decklist in the Nationals Top 8 and thought it looked like fun, which was mainly what I’m after in Standard after endless games with Zoo or “random creature plus Jitte” decks.
I made just a couple of tweaks and ran with this build. I think the deck’s much better with Adarkar Valkyrie instead of the second Angel of Despair but that will have to wait until after the 20th.
2 Angel of Despair
4 Firemane Angel
1 Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
2 Yosei, the Morning Star
2 Orzhov Signet
2 Rakdos Signet
1 Debtors’ Knell
1 Faith’s Fetters
4 Phyrexian Arena
1 Culling Sun
4 Lightning Helix
2 Moonlight Bargain
3 Rise // Fall
4 Wrath of God
1 Blood Crypt
3 Caves of Koilos
4 Godless Shrine
2 Sacred Foundry
1 Sulfurous Springs
2 Ivory Mask
2 Faith’s Fetters
2 Kami of Ancient Law
2 Night of Souls’ Betrayal
3 Sacred Ground
I had only played this deck three or four times and haven’t been online or reading much about Magic all summer so I had no hint about the metagame or how to board this thing. But hey, fun, right?
Round 1 - Jesus Molina - Boros
Jesus is a quiet guy but a good player and friendly. The first game was wacky. He’s playing Boros, maximum cc of three or so, and he was stuck on one Plains for at least eight or nine turns. And he still got me down to seven before I started to right the ship. I was mana flooded but finally started drawing some removal, and then the Angel of Despair came out and blew up his one Plains. That was pretty much it.
Games two and three he must have boarded in more burn because I think he cast at least one every turn after turn two or three. He burned me out very quickly in game two. Game three was a bit more of a challenge for him but still not difficult.
Round 2 - Tom Miner - BG Golgari Germination
Tom was clearly a new tournament player, a fact revealed by the brand-spanking new DCI card sitting beside his library. His deck was fairly well thought out creatures he could sack (STE, Grave-Shell Scarab) but he didn’t have a lot of big threats and he had no removal at all. He counted on that enchantment to generate a bunch of 1/1’s and swarm you. Perhaps not the best strategy in an enviornment filled with Pyroclasm and Mortify but still, points for originality.
Game one he actually got me down to six before I could mount an offense. I drew three Mortify’s to keep the Germination off the board but I couldn’t find much other removal or any actual threats. I think I had to Wrath of God away a Golgari Brownscale or something similar just to avoid dying. Then I started playing angels.
Game two he didn’t find any of his threats and only one Germination, and I found Helixes early and angels late.
Round 3 - David Stroud - GWu control
David usually pounds me in FNM and he was sporting some net deck or other which is similar to mine in the early game but also runs Enduring Ideal late game to go fetch Fetters and Debtors’ Knell for free. He also had the Miren/Yosei combo to keep opponents tapped out.
Game one took at least half an hour. He spent early turns spinning the top and Farseeking for land. I spent the early game drawing land naturally, expect for a truly misplayed Castigate. Finally David played Zur’s Weirding at 34 life. I could have conceded right then but he used it to stop almost everything and I foolishly thought that perhaps the angels in my yard and hand might go the distance. I forgot about Mr. Fetters and the Angel didn’t last long, at least as an offensive threat. I also forgot to gain my Angel life at least four times by my count but I’m sure it wouldn’t have mattered.
Game two actually went pretty quickly. I got angels out quickly and he couldn’t find Wrath in time.
Game three threatened to be another long one and by now we had everyone else watching our match since we were the last ones playing. I had to move to a second sheet of paper to keep track of the life totals. I was able to get a Firemane Angel into play and she brought down David’s life total quickly. When she was joined by an Angel of Despair David scooped.
Round 4 - Ben Snyder - Owling Mine w/Magnivore
Ben has been playing this deck for some time and is quite good with it. Worse, this deck is a terrible match up for my little net deck since half of my deck is either useless most of the time or outright plays into his strategy of keeping my hand full.
Game one went as expected with the added bonus of me mulliganing a one land hand. It might actually be an interesting strategy to deliberately mulligan against this deck but I decided not to go that far out on a ledge. I kept the six. I Helixed him once just to get it out of my hand but otherwise it was him bouncing or blowing up my land and then Sudden Impacting and Owling me with my 7+ card hands.
Game two was better. He was flooded and I got a turn two Sacred Ground. An early Fall hit Magnivore and Wildfire and he was left with one card in hand. I cruised after that as his land destruction was rendered useless and he doesn’t really have a lot of burn main. I wound up with all three Sacred Grounds and an Ivory Mask in play and those really neutralized much of his deck.
Game three was back to tricks except that I was mana screwed this time. Almost a sure win for the Owl. He bounced my land turn two then I couldn’t get more than two to stick at a time. I finally got two Signets into play and he Shattering Spree’d them both away. After that he joked, “Now all I need is Boomerang and Wildfire.” He drew and smiled and said, “There it is.” I told him that if he showed me Eye of Nowhere (his deck’s Boomerang) and Wildfire that I’d scoop. He did and I did.
That’s true parity, I suppose. I think the deck might need to resort to Pyroclasm in the board instead of Night of Souls Betrayal. NoSB is quite good but it does cost four and thus isn’t great against the aggro decks. It’s good against Glare but so is Mortify. Alternately I’m thinking maybe fighting fire with fire is a good idea—pull a Terry Soh and do a transformational sideboard into an aggro Rakdos/Boros combo. I might toy with that since I’m just playing around with this deck anyway.
I wound up losing to the guy who finished second (Jesus) and the guy who finished third (Ben). Not great but I don’t feel too bad about losing to two bad matchups for this deck. I think. I’ll have to play it more to find out.
I decided to give Rakdos one more chance at Friday Night Magic. I figured there would be a good combination of decks copied from Regionals winners, rogue decks and random creature decks to give the old red/black a good workout. If the deck did as badly as I did at Regionals then it would be back to the card boxes for Rakdos.
I made some tweaks to the deck after Regionals and ran with this build:
4 Rise // Fall
4 Seal of Fire
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Jagged Poppet
4 Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
4 Rakdos Augermage
4 Rakdos Guildmage
4 Ravenous Rats
4 Blood Crypt
2 Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Blood Moon
4 Hit // Run
3 Pithing Needle
4 Rain of Gore
The changes definitely helped, especially Blood Moon in the board and having more creatures. The Guildmage is suprisingly effective if I can live long enough to get to four land.
We played five rounds and had over twenty players—a good turnout for Friday Night Magic lately.
Round 1 - Colton Klein - White Weenie
Colton was running straight up white weenie complete with Glorious Anthem and a pack of Savannah Lions and Isamaru. He also had the 2/1 flyer from Dissension, Mistral Charger. In game one Colton bolted out of the blocks with a Isamaru on turn one, a flyer on turn two and two Savannah Lions on turn three. I couldn’t catch up and only hit him once with a Jagged Poppet. Game two was even worse as I didn’t do a point of damage. I wasn’t feeling good about the deck’s future after this match—white weenie never even looked back as it rolled over Rakdos.
Round 2 - Bruce Freed - RG land destruction
Bruce and his son Noah and I have met at many local tournaments and they’re always very friendly. Unfortunately for them they usually like to sport rogue decks which seem to get hated out of the tournaments. This Friday night Bruce admitted that he had just thrown the deck together from spare parts because he and Noah wanted to play Magic. He had the Birds of Paradise hoping to lead to the turn two Stone Rain. We played a couple of casual games after round one and I rolled him—I got Augermage on turn three followed by Jitte on turn four and he couldn’t get a threat in time. We both laughed when we found out we were paired in round two.
Game one was back and forth. Bruce got off to a fast start with a Kird Ape and a Dryad Sophisticate but I eventually found enough burn to kill his creatures. I stabilized—at four. Against red. I wasn’t feeling good. Fortunately for me Bruce’s build didn’t have much burn (I never saw any burn except Volcanic Hammer.) Jitte went the distance again as he never kept another creature on the board.
Game two was brutal for Bruce. He led with Forest, Birds. I led with Blood Crypt untapped, Seal of Fire, kill the Birds. Next turn he played another Bird and missed his land drop—he had been counting on either drawing a land and doing the turn two Stone Rain (which he was holding) or just playing another Bird and Stone Raining me on turn three. So after playing the Bird he passed the turn. I played a land and Demonfire’d his Bird. He didn’t draw another land until the turn I killed him as a Guildmage carrying a Jitte did him in.
Round 3 - Greg Goodapple - UB spirits
As we started Greg admitted “This is my first serious tournament.” He was already 1-1 so I tried hard not to let my guard down. He was playing a bunch of little Spirits like Bile Urchin plus Theif of Hope and Devouring Greed as a finisher. He got off to a fast start, playing Bile Urchins and black and blue Zubera, but once I hit three land I started playing Poppets and Augermages. I had extra land so I was able to pick off the black Zubera and not lose anything important. Finally I found a Jitte and started swinging. He had three Drift of Phantasms in play but I used Jitte counters to start killing his creatures which had a power greater than zero. He found a Devouring Greed and hit for six but then had nothing left but the Phantasms. I had four or five creatures in play and killed him in two turns.
Game two was more of the same. He had another fast start but I had Seal of Fire early and random creature plus Jitte late.
Round 4 - Jason Powell - The Rock/BGW control
Jason, 2006 Oregon States Top 8 finisher, is another regular at Rainy Day Games but I haven’t seen much of him in the last few months. He skipped Regionals but can usually be found at all the major events. I knew he was playing some sort of black/green because he’d traded for a couple of my Crime // Punishment before the tournament started.
In game 1 Jason played a couple of land and then—well, then he missed about nine land drops in a row. He never found another land and I never took a point of damage.
Game two I took out the Jitte’s (they always get Fettered or Naturalized anyway against that deck) and boarded in the Blood Moons. I got one on turn three and it wrecked his mana for the rest of the game. He was still able to play Sakura Tribe Elders and find some basic land, then was able to start playing Hierarchs. He was up to 28 life until I started to draw burn. I was down to four but I finally killed all his creatures. I knew he had a Putrefy in hand but couldn’t find a Swamp. I knew he also had some other good card in hand. I had a Poppet in play and a land in hand. I drew a Blood Witch. I played the land, then the Witch, and swung with the Poppet to empty his hand. Jason couldn’t find another answer in time.
Why are most matches sweeps with this deck? It’s very odd.
Round 5 - Steve Gobel - UGR Graft
Steve’s another RDG veteran. He was playing a slightly tweaked version of the deck which led him to a 5-2-2 finish at Regionals. I like this deck and I’m going to build it as soon as I can find the Root-Kin’s. In game one he led with a Root-Kin on turn three (after a Tribe-Elder) and I Demonfire’d it away. I started to play some of my own creatures but he Savage Twister’ed them away. He decided after Regionals that the Twisters should be main and they certainly wiped my board with ease. Even worse, a couple of turns later he played Simic Sky Swallower, the 6/6 Flying Trampling untargetable beastie. I can’t deal with an untargetable flyer pre-board and I scooped with me at seven at him at 16.
Game two I double mulliganed—ugh, shades of Regionals. I had two Swamps in my set of five and kept even though my three spells all required red. I really didn’t want to go to four on the play. Can you guess what happened? Yes, I never drew another land. Stuck on two swamps I watched as he played a creature a turn. He had eight points of offense on the board with me at 12 and I scooped after missing another land drop.
This was one of the worst rounds I’ve ever had. I just got totally crushed. I was never in either game.
A random prize brought me a foil Goblin Warchief which my Goblin deck will enjoy, but otherwise Rakdos still hasn’t proven that it can compete. Of my three match wins I beat a deck which should be a good matchup for me (land destruction without burn), a good player who got lousy draws, and a player in his first tournament. I got swept by a deck archetype which I think will become more and more popular and by a fairly vanilla creature deck. Not promising. I think I need to take out Demonfire and just go all out Hellbent—maybe replace the Demonfire’s with Shocks or go back to Ignorant Bliss in order to maximize the usefulness of the Poppets and the Augermages and put the Demonfires in the board against control.
But I think more likely is I’ll either go back to Zoo or build the UGR graft deck. Steve’s version had Sky Swallower, Demonfire, Stampeding Serow, and a couple of other singletons with no way to search for them. I think I’d increase the burn and get rid of the singletons or boost their numbers—probably two Sky Swallower’s, two Demonfire, some Electrolyzes (Steve didn’t run any) and drop the Serow.
This is a bad environment for a color combination that can’t deal with enchantments or artifacts once they hit the table. A Paladin en-Vec with a Jitte is pretty much game over for me, as is a resolved Glare.
By the way, two decks drew at 4-0: Owling Mine and a rogue gold deck using a bunch of the split cards and Pillar of the Paruns to cast them. I played a couple of casual games against the deck before the tournament, using my Izzet deck. I’m not sure what his win conditions are—the only thing the deck ever did to me was Crime my Solifuge’s into play on his side (which turned out to be enough because this Izzet deck doesn’t play many creatures).
I have been looking forward to the black red Rakdos guild since the Ravnica block began. I’ve always favored aggressive decks and I figured this guild would suit my play style well. I was somewhat dissapointed that they didn’t include a reprint of Terminate but I got over it (Wrecking Ball is no Terminate).
I playtested for a couple of weeks and settled on this build:
4 Ignorant Bliss
4 Rise // Fall
4 Seal of Fire
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Gobhobbler Rats
4 Jagged Poppet
4 Lyzolda, the Blood Witch
4 Rakdos Augermage
4 Blood Crypt
3 Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
4 Sulfurous Springs
4 Cranial Extraction
4 Hit // Run
3 Pithing Needle
4 Rain of Gore
I didn’t run Dark Confidant because I have other card drawing abilities in the Ignorant Bliss and Lyzolda, and without Jitte (which is often hated out of a game) I don’t have any way to gain life. Maybe I should have run him anyway, I’m still undecided.
We had 133 players which meant 8 rounds of Swiss.
Round 1 - Stefan Hoover - Gruul
Stefan looked a bit nervous and admitted as we played game one that this was his first big tournament. This didn’t make me feel any better as he beat me down with Scab-Clan Maulers and Dryad Sophisticates after I mulliganed (a theme which would continue all day). I didn’t mount much of a defense as his red green beaters, well, beat up on me.
Game two I boarded in Hit // Run, which did it’s job quite well. Stefan’s version was a bit of a budget version and included Viashino Sandstalker instead of Giant Solifuge. The Sandstalker hit me once but I Hit him back the next turn. He cast another one the next turn and that got Hit as well. Then he cast a Streetbreaker Wurm and I was out of Hits. The next turn he put Moldervine Cloak on the Wurm and swung for 9. I had an Augermage equipped with Jitte but I chose not to block. I probably should have in case he had burn but I hadn’t seen any burn in the first game, just creatures and Cloaks. I top decked a Demonfire and swung with the Augermage. Between Jitte counters and Demonfire I was able to kill the 9/7 Wurm and he never got another creature into play.
Game three I had a fast start. Two Fall’s, one on turn two and one on turn three, netted two Burning-Tree Shamans, a Scab-Clan Mauler, and another critter. He had one card left and I had a full grip. I started playing Augermages and Rats and they killed him off.
I will note that Stefan had to mulligan in both games two and three. There was a LOT of mulliganing this day.
I was happy to finally win round 1. I usually lose round one. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good sign of things to come.
Round 2 - Dave Doffing - Gruul
Dave had a better, fully tricked out version of Gruul with Solifuges and Flames of the Blood Hand main. Game one I mulliganed once and then missed two early land drops in a row. I never did a point of damage to him as his bugs were followed by two Flames. Game two I lasted longer and at one point had cleared the board of all non-land permanents. Then he cast two bugs. I responded by losing my life.
Round 3 - Ryan Evens - Roxodon Hierarchy
Ryan led with a Swamp and I was happy to be facing something besides Gruul. Game one was great, it must have taken at least 30 minutes and we went back and forth many times. He wound up Fetter’ing my Rix Maadi because I was using it to keep both our hands empty. But eventually he found and played an Arena and started to gain card advantage. He maxed out at 31 life but I started getting Lyzolda and Augermages and whittled him down to 7. Then he cleared the board with another Wrath, then used Crime to steal one of the Augermages from my graveyard. Eventually the little traitor killed me because I couldn’t find a creature or burn.
Game two, I mulliganed (surprise). He quickly established card advantage with another Arena and laid down Kokusho. He said he had them main but just didn’t find it game one. I had boarded in Rain of Gore, which was in the board just for this matchup, but naturally I couldn’t find it. Kokusho took it home.
Round 4 - Tyler Lang - UB Control
Tyler was piloting a deck played by Josh Beck, a nice guy who I’ve played against at States and several GPT’s and who qualified for PT-LA last year. Despite having swept Mike Hall in round one (currently the top ranked Constructed player in Oregon), Tyler was not happy with the deck and kept telling Josh that Darkblast should have been included. Josh was sitting next to us as we played our match. In game one I played Lyzolda. Tyler pointed to it, turned to Josh and said, “See, Darkblast!” I played too many threats for him to deal with and killed him with 18 life left.
Game two was back and forth (after my obligatory mulligan). I got a couple of good Fall’s but he was able to recover and start playing blue Legends. He played Meloku which I tried to kill with Demonfire. He Hinder’ed that but the Hinder tied up the mana he would have used to make flying tokens. He got me down to five with Meloku before I could kill it, but then cast Keiga. I had a land in my hand. I drew—Demonfire. I played the land and cast it at him for 7. He was at 6. He looked at his three untapped lands, looked at his hand, and looked at Demonfire, and back and forth for what seemed like several minutes. Finally he extended his hand and said “Good game” as Josh looked on and shook his head.
Tyler wound up 1-5 before dropping. The only guy he beat was Mike Hall. It was that kind of day.
Round 5 - Romain Hughes - UGW control
Romain, proprietor of our competitor KardKastle but still a nice guy, was playing a hybrid graft/blue-white control deck. I don’t know if this is a net deck or not but I had never played against it before. He had total control of game two as he countered everything relevant and Mortified the creatures which did hit the table. Game two I brought in Pithing Needle and Rain of Gore and kept an openin gseven of this: one Mountain, two Rain of Gore, two Fall, a Rat and a Poppet. I kept. I figured at 2-2 I didn’t have much chance at Top 8 anyway and it was a good place to take a chance. If I did get a source of black it would totally shut down his game.
Naturally I missed land drops for the first three turns and wound up discarding the Poppet. This was my deck telling me “Don’t do that again!”
Romain, meanwhile, was laying down his defenses including a turn three Ivory Mask, then Story Circle on Red a couple of turns later. I got a Pithing Needle through for the Story Circle but Ivory Mask made much of my Fall-filled hand dead cards. I started swinging with a Rat but I wasn’t doing much damage and I actually said, “I’m giving you way too much time—I’m just waiting for you to rip Meloku.” He did, the next turn, and Meloku killed me.
Oh yeah, I mulliganed game one. Again. I think that’s part of why I kept in game two; I just didn’t feel confident that my next six cards would be better than the seven I started with.
Round 6 - Ben Oden - Rakdos
Ben built his deck differently than mine. He used the Rakdos Guildmage and Hellhole Rats. The Hellhole Rats weren’t very effective. As I saw in my playtesting they are a bit slow against any aggressive deck. He cast his in game one while I had two cards in hand. I responded by casting the Char to kill one of his other critters and discarding what would have been my sixth land.
But of course I had mulliganed in game one, making it at least one mulligan in every single round. Boy that was frustrating. No excuse for that in a 23-land, two color deck which curves out at three. But I digress
Game one went back and forth as we played critters and killed our opponents critters. Eventually he out-crittered me and he used the Guildmage to create a Goblin token (he even had the Unglued Goblin tokens for the occasion) which was one more creature than I could block.
Game two was pretty even until he found two Hit // Run in a row. He killed both of my creatures, did six damage to me, and swung with the creatures he had left. It was just ugly.
Games: 4-9 (!)
I dropped after that. Wow, I just realized that I got swept in all four rounds I lost. Ouch. I still feel that this deck is much better than it showed today.
Final thoughts: Rise // Fall is awesome and a must include in any Rakdos deck. Even if it gets countered it’s still a one for one and I hit for two, Hymn to Tourach style, way more often than I missed.
I think three Rix Maadi was too many. Having more than one is unnecessary and it sometimes gets in the way of the heavy color requirements of the deck. You really want to get to two black so you can get the Augermage out there.
Ignorant Bliss was a good trick and got me out of a couple of Castigates in round three but overall I don’t think it was needed. I think I’ll make these changes and try again at the next Friday Night Magic:
-1 Rix Maadi
-4 Ignorant Bliss
-4 Gobhobbler Rats (I only regenerated them in the Hierarchy matchup, to defend against Descendants. Otherwise it was a Grizzly Bear with more difficult mana requirements.)
+4 Rakdos Guildmage (I need more early beats/threats/blockers—the deck just starts too slowly and doesn’t finish people off quickly enough, giving them time to draw threats.)
+4 Ravenous Rats (More disruption than the Gobhobblers but they can still carry a Jitte.)
I expected UG Graft to be big but I’m not sure that any of those made the top 8. I know good guy and fellow Rainy Day Gamer was able to draw into the Top 8 with Ghazi-Glare, and there were several Zoo decks, a Ghost Husk and a Ghost Dad deck all near the top 8. I know one Ghost Dad deck piloted by Jason Schumacher wound up qualifying for Nationals.
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