FNM Report, 3/12/2010

Another Standard FNM at Montag’s, and so another report. I played Boss Naya last week into the finals so this week I wanted to play something original. I had been tinkering with a Grixis build but in playtesting it just folded like a lawn chair to Jund. I tweaked it a little and it went a lot better, so I decided to give it a whirl. Here’s the listing:

Creatures (7)
3 Abyssal Persecutor
4 Sedraxis Specter

Other spells (32)
3 Lightning Bolt
3 Essence Scatter
3 Into the Roil
4 Terminate
4 Blightning
2 Treasure Hunt
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Earthquake
3 Cruel Ultimatum

Land (25)
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Dragonskull Summit
2 Lavaclaw Reaches
2 Drowned Catacomb
2 Creeping Tar Pit
4 Crumbling Necropolis
4 Swamp
3 Island
3 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
3 Double Negative
3 Countersquall
3 Flashfreeze
1 Earthquake
2 Smother
2 Mind Control
1 Relic of Progenitus

Such is the state of blue that I felt the need to start three counters and board nine more to be situational. Here’s how it played out:

Round 1: Ken, playing Esper Mill
This was completely out of left field. Creature-less with Tome Scour, Twincast, Mind Funeral, Howling Mine, Angelsong, Safe Passage, and numerous other mill cards. Thinking outside the metagame; I love it!

Game 1: His first turn was Island, Tome Scour, go. I certainly wasn’t ready for that. What was really, really bad was when a few turns later he hit me with a Mind Funeral and got like 30 cards off it—very bad luck. However, I got both a Persecutor and a Spectre out and just managed to kill him with a handful of cards in my library.

Game 2: I didn’t see any creatures so I took out the Essence Scatters and most of the Terminates for the Countersqualls and the Double Negatives. I got Jace out and started building him up, but he managed multiple Howling Mines, a Mind Funeral and a Twincast Tome Scour, and even though I got off a Cruel and had a Spectre active, and him down to 4, he hit me with a late Traumatize followed by a Tome Scour which left me with not enough cards to make it through my draw phase. He’s not the fastest player in the world so we only had a few minutes left and I was worried that we’d draw on time.

Game 3: I played as fast as I could, as I dropped a Spectre on turn 3 and another on turn 4. He had an early Howling Mine and, of course, a first-turn Tome Scour (all three games). Turn 5 I sent in both of the Spectres; he had an Angelsong but I had Countersquall, so he took 8 points down to 6. He had another Angelsong the next turn, but I had Bolts so I won just before time was called. Whew.

Round 2: Tony, playing GWb Junk
Despite me reading a couple pieces about this deck, I hadn’t really thought about it much and I didn’t have a plan in mind for it.

Game 1: I thought I had this game in the bag. I managed to keep the board mostly clear and got a Persecutor out fairly early. He tried a Baneslayer but I had the Scatter for it and beat him down to six with the big Demon. I think we both thought I had this one in the bag but he topdecked a Marshal’s Anthem which brought back his Baneslayer—not the best thing to see when you have a Demon out. I wasn’t too worried since I had a Terminate for it, but then he topdecked another Baneslayer and that I could not answer.

Game 2: In went the Mind Controls and the Smothers. He mulliganed down to 5 and as a result got a slow start. I got a Spectre out who got in one whack before being taken out, but the card advantage situation was positive, and then I got a Cruel and then another Cruel. That’s pretty much game right there; I ultimately ended it with a Persecutor.

Game 3: My opening hand looked great: Terminate, Blighting, Jace, Persecutor, Spectre… but only a single Catacombs for land. I sent it back and got another single-land hand. I sent that back and got yet another single-land hand, ugh. I decided I just couldn’t go down to four, so I played it. I actually drew land the first few turns and managed to make a game of it. I did make one savagely stupid mistake in the game. Tony cast a Stoneforge Mystic and Collar, and I put down Jace, and bounced the equipped Mystic. No, I have no idea WTF I was thinking. Anyway, next turn (turn 5), he got an Emeria Angel with a land. I bounced it, he re-cast it and then had a fetch on turn 6, so there was a table full of birds. He got in a six-point whack with the flying force but then I drew a Persecutor. He equipped one of the tokens with the Collar so I could only attack if I was willing to lose the fat flyer, but he couldn’t productively attack, either, for any more than 1. He played a Baneslayer and beat me down to 1 with it. I got off a Cruel to go back to 6, but it just wasn’t enough.

Grr. 1-1 is not the start I was hoping for.

Round 3: Kris, playing White Weenie with Blue
The blue splash seemed to be just for Deft Duelists. If there was any other blue, I didn’t see it.

Game 1: I won the die roll and Scattered his turn two Firewalker. Turn 3 he cast Honor of the Pure and followed that with Deft Duelist, and then a Skyfisher. I took 6 when they both came over. I played Jace and bounced the Skyfisher, but then of course lost Jace to the Duelist. I drew a Terminate for the Skyfisher but couldn’t get rid of the Duelist with a Roil and two Bolts in my hand. However, I Blightninged him and got another Jace out, so he was in topdeck mode and I was controlling the top of his deck. Jace kept him off other threats but the Duelist beat me down to 7. I used Jace to brainstorm into the last land I needed for a Cruel Ultimatum, which netted me another Cruel, and that was too much.

Game 2: In went the Smothers and the Mind Controls (in case he had Baneslayers). He cast an early Duelist and then got a Collared Mystic. He got a few whacks in before I killed the Mystic with a Bolt or a Smother (I don’t remember which), then got another Duelist. I got a Spectre that hit him once and then I cast another Spectre. I had six lands out but not enough to Cruel and I had no land in hand. I sent both Spectres and he Pathed both of them. Awesome, two free land, next turn Cruel Ultimatum. Next turn Blightning and a Persecutor, and that was it.

So, I was 2-1. We had four rounds of Swiss cutting to top 8, as has been common at Montag’s of late. Now, often 2-1-1 will make the top 8, but I assumed that my first-round opponent had gone 0-3 or something like it, and my second-round opponent lost in round 3, so I thought I had to play for it.

Round 4: Alan, playing GWb
Not strictly Junk, but Junk-like. I didn’t see Mystics, and he definitely had Steppe Lynxes, so

Game 1: This was one of the dumbest games I have ever seen. I took a two-land opener (both red-black duals), and didn’t see a third land for a really long time… 11 or 12 turns, at least. The only thing that made this game last even that long is that he was also stuck at two lands for several turns, but he broke out with a Lotus Cobra with a fetch into a Baneslayer and I was discarding Cruel Ultimatums. I never did a single point of damage in this game.

Game 2: He got a first-turn Lynx that I did not Terminate on turn 2 because I had a Quake in hand. Sure enough, after he swung once for two he put down a Lotus Cobra and passed the turn. So, my turn three play was a one-point Quake for two cards—pretty good. I Blightninged him and got a Jace out against his Noble Hierarch. I was scrying him (kept him off two Pulses) and Blightninged him again while he was poking me with the druid, and I managed to kill the Hierarch. He cast a Ranger of Eos which I felt I had to block with an animated Creeping Tar Pit. So he had some weenies out and started hitting Jace once he go to ten counters. I had the mana I needed and used Jace to brainstorm into a Cruel Ultimatum putting him at 3 and me at 16, and that put it out of reach.

Game 3: He got a first-turn Lynx with second-turn and third-turn fetches, so I was at an early 12. I got a Bolt for the Lynx and Blightninged him and I felt I had things stabilized, though I had a Roil and two Jaces, and a in my hand and no sources of blue. I finally drew an Island, but he got a 6/6 Knight of the Reliquary along with something else that I can’t remember. I Roiled the Knight once and did not draw a land off it. Next turn I drew a blue source, but it was a Catacomb so it didn’t help me right away. Knight’s friend had hit me down to two and I drew a Spectre, but I couldn’t play both Jace and a Spectre on the same turn, so I couldn’t stop both guys, and that was game.

So 2-2 and I missed the top 8. Turns out my round 1 opponent did make the top 8, so my tiebreakers were actually good, and if I had drawn I would have made it into the top 8 after all. Bummer.

I think the deck is close to being good. I don’t like versions that run things like Calcite Snapper because they have to sacrifice draw or disruption or removal. I really like the Persecutor in Grixis because while it dies to some spot removal, your opponent typically has only three turns to find such removal, because chumping it is generally ineffective. It crushes Bloodwitches and Sphinxes; the only real problem is Baneslayers—stupid protection from Demons. Nighthawk would be a problem except that it dies to both Bolt and Smother, so those are pretty easy to deal with. Maybe it needs Swerves or something… it’s close.

Anyway, I don’t always stay for the top 8 but this time I decided to because I wanted to see the mill deck in action against something else. His draw was bad, it was my buddy Paul playing U/W control, though not the Chapin version. The first match was close, Paul won with four cards left in his library and at least one Howling Mine in play. Game 2 was hilarious. Paul had exactly one copy of Telemin Performance in his sideboard, for the mirror. He drew it in his opening hand, and two Howling Mines and a Font of Mythos meant he wouldn’t miss a land drop, and on turn 5 the game ended when he cast it. Awesome sideboard tech!

The final four were three U/W control decks and one Jund, and the Jund lost to Paul in the semis. I was thinking of taking U/W control for a spin next week, but not after this; people will be packing all kinds of hate for it and it’d hardly be original. Maybe I’ll go back to Naya or I might try something really fast like Boros Bushwacker or something goofy like Valakut Ramp with Avenger of Zendikar…