January 10th, 2010
I wasn’t going to write this report because I did so badly, but perhaps this can be an object lesson to others.
First, a bit on the metagame at my local store (Montag’s Games): the last few times I’ve played FNM, I’ve faced a lot of (surprise!) Jund. Also, I always end up facing John’s Valakut Ramp deck. I was planning on playing UWr control last week, then didn’t and played Vampires instead. It was a bad decision, as I missed the top 8 because I lost two matches to, of course, Jund and Valakut Ramp, the generally bad matchups for Vampires. So, this week was going to be UWr, but then LSV won the SC5K in LA with UWr, and I didn’t want to play mirrors, which I thought I’d end up doing. So, I played a deck that tests very well against Jund and Valakut. Here’s the list:
4 Vedalkin Outlander
4 Knight of the White Orchid
4 Emeria Angel
2 Baneslayer Angel
3 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
2 White Knight
2 Devout Lightcaster
4 Fieldmist Borderpost
2 Path to Exile
3 Hindering Light
3 Spreading Seas
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
2 Celestial Purge
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Arid Mesa
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Jace Beleren
3 Rite of Replication
1 Celestial Purge
1 Devout Lightcaster
3 Brave the Elements
1 Spreading Seas
Yes, I’d run more Baneslayers if I had them, but I only have the two. Two last-minute decisions on sideboard cards: Rite of Replication rather than Mind Control and Brave the Elements over Mark of Asylum. I like it because it has some nice control elements, isn’t a netdeck, and wrecks Jund. It’s also very good against Valakut Ramp. It’s not good against Vampires, and it’s spotty against random stuff, particularly other decks running heavy on blue. You can, of course, guess what happened.
Round 1: Carlos, playing WU
His build was a little bit less aggressive. It had more draw (Divination and Ponder), fewer creatures (including Deft Duelists), 4 Baneslayers, and Ajani Goldmane.
Game 1: He had a terrible draw and didn’t really do much besides play land and draw more cards. He Path’d a couple of my early weenies, but never found enough answers and I bashed him. The only damage I took was from my own fetchlands.
Game 2: See game 1, but in reverse. He had a turn 2 Luminarch Ascension that made this game pretty straightforward for him.
Game 3: This game is the real motivation for writing this report in the first place. He got down an early Deft Duelist that I didn’t get an answer for for a while. That and a Knight of the W.O. were beating on me without opposition. I managed a Knight of my own (I got land, though, because of the Borderposts) and traded mine for his. He stuck an Ajani, and that became a problem as he started pumping up his Duelist and second Knight. I managed an Outlander to chump, his guys got bigger. I managed an Elspeth, which was a good source of further chumpers. Then he dropped a Baneslayer. I managed an Emeria and a fetch for another round of chumping; his guys got bigger again. Then I drew my ninth mana source, and it led to a hugely fun play: a kicked Rite of Replication on a Baneslayer. He attacked with everything and I let a lot of it through, then counterattacked with my flotilla of Baneslayers for a huge life gain. (In retrospect, what I should have done is double-block on two of his guys, including his Baneslayer.) I played a Jace and drew an extra card, which was another Rite. He O-Ring’d one of my Baneslayers and attacked (his Baneslayer was now 8/8 with Ajani bumps.) Next turn I cast and kicked for another mess of Baneslayers. I managed one attack with a whole bunch (put me up to 52 life) and he peeled a Day of Judgment and reset everything. I still had Elspeth and he managed another Ajani. I beat with a pumped soldier token for a few turns and he gained life with Ajani and I realized I’d be facing a huge Avatar token, so I used Elspeth’s ultimate to make my 1/1 token indestructable. Stalemate, but he drew another Baneslayer. It never mattered, though, as time was called on us, so the many Baneslayer battle ended on a draw. (I think this demonstrates how much better Mind Control is than Rite, though, as I would likely have won this had those Rites been Mind Controls. I wanted Rite for Vampires, because a kicked Rite on a Bloodwitch is game.)
Round 2: Jeff playing UG Mill
I got rounded down rather than up. He claimed his deck was awful but fun. I had no idea what it would be. What it turned out to be is Crabs, Harrows, Khalni Expeditions, Archive Traps, Traumatizes, and a couple other goodies I didn’t see until very late in Game 3.
Game 1: He did almost nothing but Harrow while weenies pumped by Elspeth beat him up. I had little idea what I was sideboarding for.
Game 2: He got two early Crabs and a Traumatize which hit me for 23 cards. I didn’t have enough guys to be putting on enough pressure. I wasn’t thinking about Archive Traps and got hit by a pair when I cracked a fetch. However, I had a Negate for the second trap. Unfortunately he got a Terramorphic and a Harrow with a Crab in play and he milled me when he was at 4 life with lethal on the board. Ugh.
Game 3: My opening hand was a fetchland and a Borderpost. I risked it and got Archive Trapped on my first turn. Again I got off to a slow start and he had a first-turn Crab. I managed to Flashfreeze something (a Harrow, I think) early but just was not generating enough early pressure. I had to Path a second Crab (milling me with the first). He hit me with a Traumatize and my library was getting mighty thin. He cast a Rampaging Baloths and blew a Khalni Heart Expedition and I realized my life total might actually become relevant. I got an Elspeth and a Knight of the White Orchid (with a Negate in hand for the Archive Trap, which was needed) so I had chumpers. Finally, with only a few cards left in my library, I got out a Baneslayer and whacked him down to 3, bringing my life to 23. Then the killer from him: Platinum Angel. I had no removal. I “killed” him, but I had no way to get rid of the Angel and he basically just sat still for three turns and I lost to not being able to draw. Wow.
Round 3: Mitch playing GU Landfall
I had played Mitch last week when he played a mono-white Kor deck that I wrecked pretty easily (I was playing Vampires). I again had no idea what to expect with this. Was all Zendikar except I saw Terramorphics.
Game 1: He dropped a turn 1 Zephyr Sprite. Zephyr Sprite? Really? OK, Knights and Outlanders and Elspeth beat him down. I took a few pokes from the Sprite and some fetchland damage, but that was about it.
Game 2: I had a couple of 2/2s to his 1/1 Frontier Guide that he used on his turn 4 to generate another land. On his turn 5 he got land and played a Baloth Woodcrasher. Elspeth allowed me to fly over him and hit him to 9, then cast an Emeria Angel and cracked a fetch for two bird tokens. However, I had no removal for the Baloth. He got all giddy and thought he had won the game since he had two Harrows, but I had a Flashfreeze for one of them, so the Baloth only came for 12, which I let through. I swung for lethal, he again was sure he was going to win because he had a Fog, but I had another Flashfreeze.
Round 4: Kevin playing Vampires
This time I got rounded up, and got rounded up into a matchup that wasn’t especially good for me. Still, not unwinnable, and at least I knew what to expect.
Game 1: I opened with two Spreading Seas, which turned out to be not very good against a monocolored deck. His turn 2 play was a Child of Night, which is a bit odd in Vampires, but that was better than my turn 2 Outlander in this matchup. I got a Knight of the White Orchid (and land) but I had already taken a bunch from his guys (my Outlander died to a Gatekeeper). On turn 5 I cast a Sphinx and we traded swings for a couple turns, but all I drew after that was land and I had to leave my Spinx back to block. He managed to Tendrils my Knight and then killed the Sphinx with a Gatekeeper, and I just drew more land and died.
Game 2: At least I had a sideboard into more removal, for a change. In went the extra Lightcaster, the extra Purge, all the Rites, the ORing, the Jaces, and a couple Negates for all the Outlanders, Flashfreezes, and Spreading Seas. My draw had one Island in it. Mulliganed to six, no land at all. Mulliganed to five, which was four land and a Baneslayer. My draws were Sphinx, Path, Baneslayer, Brave the Elements… notice no land? Couldn’t cast anything. I finally drew an Emeria Angel, cast it, drew another land, and used Brave the Elements to save it from an Executioner’s Capsule. I tapped out for a Baneslayer, he had the Tendrils, game over.
Well, ugh. I brought a deck tuned for a specific metagame, and then got a completely different metagame. The irony is that if I had played this deck last week, I would have done much better and if I had played Vampires this week, I would likely have done much better. Moral of the story: stop picking decks based on an expected metagame and just play a deck that’s either good, or fun, or both. I’m thinking Valakut Ramp next week, or back to the WW/r deck I went undefeated with back in November.
As far as Valakut goes, I’m on the fence about Oracle of Mul Daya in the deck. Sometimes it’s nearly useless and just draws out a removal spell or chumps, and sometimes the extra land drop or two just wins games. The one card I’m not going to run is Grazing Gladeheart, which is common in sideboards for this deck, because nobody at the store runs Boros Bushwhacker, though I’ve seen one or two RDW variants, it’s still not frequent. I like Acidic Slime better in that sideboard slot.