M11 and Mono-blue Control

GatheringMagic.com recently (you know, like today) did a piece on mono-blue control and how it might actually be back as a result of Mana Leak in M11. It was a though-provoking piece, at least for me. In particular, it reminded me of a deck I used to play “back in the day,” which for me means my first go-round as a Magic player before my ten-year hiatus. One of the decks I used to play back then was a mono-blue control deck, called variously “DrawGo” and “CMU Blue” as a bunch of Team CMU guys played it at Worlds in 1998. For reference, here’s the “official” version of the deck:

CMU Blue (1998)

4 Nevinyrral’s Disk

1 Rainbow Efreet

Other Spells
4 Force Spike
4 Counterspell
1 Memory Lapse
3 Mana Leak
3 Forbid
2 Dissipate
4 Dismiss
4 Impulse
4 Whispers of the Muse

4 Stalking Stones
4 Quicksand
18 Island

4 Hyrdoblast
4 Sea Sprite
2 Capsize
4 Wasteland
1 Grindstone

Obviously, it’s almost creature-less. Basically, when you played it, you countered everything, blew up anything you didn’t counter with Nevy’s Disk, drew a lot of cards with Impulse and Whispers of the Muse and Dismiss, and your win condition was either the lone Rainbow Efreet (which survived Disk and was very hard to kill, in general) or with the Stalking Stones, which was the man-land of choice at the time.

We obviously don’t have most of these cards anymore. There’s no 1-drop counter like Force Spike, the only board-clearer for 4 is Day of Judgment, and there’s no recurrent instant-speed card draw like Whispers or kickass instant speed searchers like Impulse. However, I don’t think the archetype has to be completely dead.

I’d also like to point out that one of the fathers of this deck, Erik Lauer, was lead developer for Magic 2011 and fellow Team CMUer Aaron Forsythe was lead designer for Magic 2011. I actually played this deck against Aaron in a sanctioned tournament once, but he beat me with Finkel’s Sligh (mono-red) deck.

Now, Mike Flores has been advocating a UW control deck that tries to ramp into some big Eldrazi, and that’s an interesting concept, but it seems to me that you could do it almost entirely without the white now. So, let me present for your consideration, a deck idea:

DrawGo 2011

1 Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

3 Everflowing Chalice
2 Crystal Ball
1 Brittle Effigy

3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Other spells
4 Mana Leak
2 Negate
2 Essence Scatter
4 Deprive
4 Spreading Seas
2 Jace’s Ingenuity
2 Mind Spring
2 Into the Roil
3 All Is Dust
4 Eldrazi Temple
2 Eye of Ugin
4 Dread Statuary
15 Island

It’s the same general idea as the 1998 deck. All Is Dust is the new Disk, and your one beater survives it. Dread Statuary replaces Stalking Stones, your draw comes from Mind Spring and Jace’s Ingenuity, and you smooth your draws with Crystal Ball, which fortunately survives All Is Dust. The Leyline and Jace obviously don’t survive an All Is Dust but sometimes you have to give something up.

I’m sure it needs some tuning. It may well need 4 All Is Dust. I’m not actually sure how good the Into the Roil really is, and I’d consider taking them out in favor of more cheap card draw like Ponder or Preordain. I’d consider Mystifying Maze but the deck already seems pretty heavy on colorless land. Speaking of land, it might be worth replacing some of the Islands with fetchlands to thin the deck, but I’m not yet sure if that’s actually desirable. One or two Halimar Depths would also be worth considering.

The token Brittle Effigy is in case something slips through the wall of counters and you really need to get rid of it, like an opponent’s Eldrazi or an un-counterable like Great Sable Stag or Gaea’s Revenge. Probably something to consider in the sideboard, and I don’t have a sideboard sorted out in my head just yet.

It’s almost certainly soft to RDW, just as the original CMU Blue was a little soft to Sligh (which is what RDW was called back then), such that it devoted 8 sideboard slots to that matchup. I’d assume you’d board out the Deprives for Flashfreeze, but I’m not sure that’d be enough, so perhaps some Dragon’s Claws should end up in the sideboard as well. I’d even consider something really janky like Wall of Frost. Come on, CMU Blue ran Sea Sprite.

Vengevine could perhaps be a problem, but just counter them and make sure that they never cast a second creature on the same turn. That might be tough sometimes if they have a lot of small guys to cast all on the same turn, and of course there are cascades, but I don’t think it’s too unmanagable. If you can stay alive up to the first All Is Dust you should be good, since that’ll kill all the green mana dorks they have to try to cast multiple things on a turn. Maybe run a second Brittle Effigy in the sideboard for Vengevines.

Turn two Putrid Leech when you’re on the draw may also be a problem, but half the Jund players aren’t running the Leech anymore anyway, so you just counter whatever they do on turn 3 and go on your merry way. Otherwise you’ll probably have to Roil it, which doesn’t seem that strong a play, but it’s probably better than taking 4 every turn.

The UW control matchup may be kind of annoying, but this deck runs a lot more permission, so rely on that. Be selective about what you allow to resolve. Their man-lands are a little bit better because they fly, but they are slightly more expensive to activate. Try not to let a Baneslayer resolve, unless they have to tap out to do it and you have an All Is Dust ready to go. They will try to hit your man-lands and probably your Temples with their Spreading Seas, so bounce them clean with Deprive. You, of course, want to save your Seas for their Colonnades.

Finally, note there are only two cards that rotate out in the fall: Essence Scatter and Mind Spring. Losing Essence Scatter is pretty bad as Cancel seems a poor substitute. Losing Mind Spring is probably not quite as bad; running 4 Jace’s Ingenuity rather than 2 and 2 is not quite as good, but still likely acceptable. We’ll just have to see what Scars brings in. (I put my money down on some useful artifacts.)

Comments, questions, sideboard suggestions most welcome!

M11 Prerelease Report

Houston had a large regional prerelease, but it was on Saturday and I have family obligations on Saturday. Instead, I played the Sunday prerelease at my local store, Montag’s Games. I got there good and early, which was important because they had to turn people away at the Rise prerelease and I didn’t want to risk that.

This was actually my first time playing Limited with a core set. Back in the good old days when I first played, all Limited events were based on expansion sets and I don’t actually remember any kind of pre-release or drafts for 6th Edition, which was the only core set to be released during that time.

So, when we got our six packs this was my pool:

1 Pacifism
1 Infantry Veteran
1 Serra Ascendant
1 Holy Strength
1 Blinding Mage
1 Wild Griffin
1 Solemn Offering
1 Knight Exemplar
1 Cloud Crusader
2 Inspired Charge (1 foil, whee)
1 Siege Mastodon

1 Diminish
1 Merfolk Spy
1 Tome Scour
1 Mana Leak
1 Ice Cage
2 Negate
2 Flashfreeze
1 Cloud Elemental
1 Cancel
1 Sleep
1 Mass Polymorph
1 Harbor Serpent

1 Unholy Strength
1 Stabbing Pain
1 Disentomb
1 Viscera Seer
1 Deathmark
1 Reassembling Skeleton
1 Bloodthrone Vampire
1 Child of Night
1 Black Knight
1 Sign in Blood
1 Mind Rot
1 Quag Sickness
2 Liliana’s Specter
1 Phylactery Lich
1 Gravedigger
1 Howling Banshee
2 Nightwing Shade

2 Bloodcrazed Goblin
1 Goblin Tunneler
1 Ember Hauler
1 Maniac Vandal
2 Act of Treason
1 Demolish
1 Chandra’s Outrage
2 Lava Axe
1 Earth Servant

1 Llanowar Elves
1 Hornet Sting
1 Autumn’s Veil
2 Primal Cocoon
2 Fog
1 Dryad’s Favor
1 Back to Nature
1 Brindle Boar
1 Awakener Druid
1 Cultivate
1 Giant Spider
1 Prized Unicorn
2 Spined Wurm
1 Greater Basilisk
1 Overwhelming Stampede, a.k.a. “Superrun”
2 Yavimaya Wurm (1 foil)

Artifacts and Land
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Wurm’s Tooth
1 Dragon’s Claw
1 Steel Overseer
1 Whispersilk Cloak
2 Juggernaut

The only real “bomb” in this pool, in my opinion, is the Overwhelming Stampede. I could never remember the name of the card all day and just started calling it “Superrun” because I always cast it for a ton, usually +5/+5 or better. Frankly, overall, I don’t think it’s a particularly strong sealed pool. It’s not awful, but it’s not especially impressive, either, like, say, this one. No mythics, no big fliers, just some guys and very little removal.

I ruled white out as a main color immediately. A couple fliers and Pacifism, but not deep. The red is similarly shallow. Ember Hauler is fine, of course, but even 2 Lava Axe doesn’t seem good enough. I liked all the counters in blue, but there’s no win condition there; Sleep is really good, but there’s nothing to swing with once everyone is asleep. Maybe I could have run it as a support color, but otherwise no. I figured I had to run green because my only real bomb is there, and some good beaters, plus a Cultivate, which I think is awesome. That left black, which had some decent stuff but nothing game-breaking. I was happy with the artifacts and land, though. Juggernaut is pretty strong in Sealed, the Overseer and the Cloak are no slouches, either. The pool is pretty light on removal, though, but the Terramorphic plus the Cultivate allowed me to splash two Plains for the lone Pacifism. Here’s what was in sleeves at the beginning of my last match:

1 Pacifism
1 Stabbing Pain
1 Child of Night
1 Black Knight
1 Sign in Blood
1 Mind Rot
1 Quag Sickness
2 Liliana’s Specter
1 Phylactery Lich
1 Gravedigger
1 Howling Banshee
1 Awakener Druid
1 Cultivate
1 Giant Spider
1 Greater Basilisk
1 Overwhelming Stampede
2 Yavimaya Wurm
1 Steel Overseer
1 Whispersilk Cloak
2 Juggernaut

1 Terramorphic Expanse
2 Plains
6 Forest
8 Swamp

Everybody who looked at it was pretty underwhelmed. Not that it’s bad—the artifacts have nice synergy (foreshadowing Scars of Mirrodin?)—but not exactly a fear-inducing final product. Not especially heavy on evasion, not a lot of removal, not many sneaky combat tricks. “Seems really vanilla” said one of my friends. Yep, pretty much, but hey, those are the cards I got. Anyway, I didn’t go with the Spined Wurms because I think the Yavimaya Wurms are just better for only 1 colorless more; trample is really good, especially when so light on fliers. I didn’t run the Reassembling Skeleton main because it’s not aggressive enough, but I did side it in against people with any big non-trampling beaters. The Nightwing Shades are OK but a little expensive; they did come in once or twice against slower decks that were heavy on fliers, or one in place of the Howling Banshee if my opponent had a Giant Spider. I did side in the Hornet Sting a couple times against opponents that had a lot of x/1s, especially fliers.

One comment on the Lich: I was really on the fence about running it at all. It’s pretty black-heavy, of course, and removal on an artifact is bad, but I wasn’t sure how many people would main deck artifact hate. Also, I wouldn’t be trying to cast it on turn 3, but more like mid-game. 5/5 indestructible is really pretty good, so I thought it was worth a shot. However, I sided it out for game 2 in favor of a Deathmark every single round. Basically, everybody played either green or white (or both) and I didn’t want any 2-for-1s off a Naturalize or a Serene Offering, so I just went with Deathmark. I should have run Deathmark main and skipped the Lich. I only drew it once anyway, and had neither three Swamps or an artifact in play, so it didn’t matter a lot in the end.

Anyway, because it was not the greatest deck, I was determined to play tight and minimize mistakes. For a change, I think I was actually pretty successful in doing that. My strategy was to try to think, “what would Aaron Forsythe and/or Erik Lauer do?” since this set is their baby and they were my teachers. That seemed to work pretty well, in fact. (Aaron/Erik, if you read this, I would love to know what you would actually have built from this card pool!)

Round 1: Bruce, playing WGu
Game 1 Bruce Cultivated on turn 3 and dropped a Serra Angel on turn 4. Yowza. I never even got close to blocking it or killing it, but I still won. How? My 2-drop was the Overseer, my 3-drop was also a Cultivate, my 4-drop was a Juggernaut, pumped by the Overseer, then I cast a Yavimaya Wurm and blew out a huge Superrun for the win. Game 2 I got a turn 3 Cloak and a turn 4 Juggernaut and that steamrolled me into a win 4 turns later.
1-0 matches, 2-0 games

Round 2: Joe, playing GUr
Joe is a Montag’s regular, and one of the best players there; I rarely beat him, and he’s routinely in the top 8 no matter the format. Game 1 I didn’t draw much that could handle Joe’s blue flyers, and game 2 I just drew lots of land, and he beat the tar out of me with the 8/8 islandwalker that I couldn’t answer. Whee, thanks for playing.
1-1 matches, 2-2 games

Round 3: Travis, playing WR
Travis pounded me into the earth with Turboland at FNM on Friday so I owed him one. I won game 1 on the back of a 20-point Superrun. Game 2 he bashed my head in with a Sun Titan. Actually, that’s not quite right, as I could actually block the Sun Titan with my Black Knight, but the kept recurring other guys and I just couldn’t keep up. Game 3 I ran out to an early lead with something cloaked… and then started drawing land. Lots of land. I ultimately drew 15 of the 17 land in my deck—but I still won. I had three removal spells in my hand and only a Cloak on the board, and he was at 6. He dropped a little dude, which I didn’t bother with, then I finally drew a guy, and he hit it with Day. He drew a Roc Egg, I drew land. He drew something else small, I drew land for several turns while he hit me. I finally drew a guy and Cloaked him up, and he blew up a Destructive Force, which activated his Roc Egg. I drew land. He beat me down with the 3/3 Bird and something else, I drew land. Finally, I managed to draw a Shade and cloak it, then pump it next turn for the 6 I needed for the win.
2-1 matches, 4-3 games

Round 4: Carlos, playing GBw
This was the toughest match of the day, frankly. These games went long and were close. Game 1 I outraced his Primeval Titan with my own green fatness backed up by a Cloak. Game 2 I had him on the ropes a little and he was short of land. I cast a Liliana’s Specter when he had only five land, and he discarded the Primeval Titan and then got it by casting Rise from the Grave. Good play. I could not handle the trample this time around, and died a horrible death. Game 3 was also long and drawn out. I got an early lead with a Juggernaut on turn 4, which he Doom Bladed after it hit him once. I then got a Child of Night equipped with the Cloak. He Naturalized the Cloak, but I came back with a second Juggernaut. We traded blows a bit—he managed to miss the flip on a Sorcerer’s Strongbox like five times along the way, which was nice. We both had 4/5 Treefolk and then both with Wurms, but me also with a Specter. I ran my Wurm into his Wurm for 2 trample damage plus 2 in the air, then got back my Wurm with a Gravedigger. He put a Warlord’s Axe on his Treefolk, but I tapped the Treefolk on my turn with Stabbing Pain and that gave me a path to swing for lethal. Great match.
3-1 matches, 6-4 games

Round 5: LaTisha playing WGb
Game 1 I got a Child of Night on turn 2 which got me up to 26 life and her down to 14, but she dealt with it and then got a Squadron Hawk into a second one. She followed that with a Wild Griffin and I then literally drew 7 land in a row. I finally started to come back but it was too late, I got her down to 1 but she still had one of each flier on the board with me at 3 life so she had me. Game 2 I got the early Child and then a Juggernaut, but was again being beaten up by various small white fliers. However, I got a couple guys out and then Superrun for +20 when she was at like 10. Game 3 I got a great draw: Overseer, Cloak, Juggernaut, a removal spell, and 3 land. She did manage to Doom Blade the Overseer but by then the Jugger was 7/5 and Cloaked, and she never had an answer to that. I actually drew the Superrun, but I never used it. She did get a Sun Titan out, though, but I had the Pacifism for it.
4-1 matches, 8-5 games

Round 6: Zach
It was freakin’ hot because the AC was just not keeping up with the packed store and I was getting hungry. Zach and I did the math and because we both had good tiebreaks, we decided to ID as we both had spots in the top 8. I decided to go get some food, a loaded baked potato at the local barbecue place—good times.

Quarterfinals: Marvin, playing RW
Marvin’s deck was freaking sick. He had 3 Bolts and a Chandra. I got an early Child of Night, he got something else small and Bolted the Child so he could get through with his dude, which was pumped with Honor of the Pure. I dropped a Juggernaut that he couldn’t handle (he should have saved the Bolt), and then I hit him with Mind Rot and got the Chandra. He didn’t draw an answer to the Juggernaut in his next two turns, so that was it. Game 2 he drew all three Bolts and the Chandra, and I still won… without casting Superrun. He Bolted a Juggernaut, used Chandra to kill a Specter, used Chandra and a Bolt to kill a Yamivaya Wurm. I killed Chandra with my Giant Spider, then cast Gravedigger to get back the Wurm, then re-cast it and plowed through his little dudes.
5-1-1 matches, 10-5 games

Top 4 decided to split because it was damn uncomfortable in the store, so I got 12 packs of M11 and $50 in store credit. The store credit I spent mostly on the M11 planeswalkers because other than Jace and Chandra, I’m light on them, and they’ll be with us for a while yet so I thought I should have some.

I think the best part of the day is that I played what I think was pretty close to mistake-free. Rounds 3, 4, and 5 were all grinding 2-1 matches with lots of opportunities for misplays on both sides and I managed to not punt any of them, so that was good.

My impression of M11 as a set is that it’s pretty well-balanced. Slower than Zendikar/Worldwake, faster than Rise, no color seems to completely dominate. Artifacts seem very good, which as I mentioned is probably set up for Scars. I sat across from a lot of Crystal Balls today, though I won all of those matches, it seems like a good card for the set and I love the flavor.

Anyway, if anyone has any comments or questions about card choices—or if any of my opponents remembers things differently, which is likely since I didn’t take very good notes—please give me a holler.

FNM Report, 7/9/2010

I had a great deal of difficulty deciding what to play in the last pre-M11 standard FNM at Montag’s. My favorite deck in the format is Mythic Conscription, but I try not to play the same deck in back-to-back weeks, and I played it last week. I tried builds of Junk and Grixis that I thought should be OK but neither of them did very well in playtest. The Junk deck was sort of OK in general but very soft to Mythic. The Grixis was very good against UW and UWr, OK against Mythic, but very soft to RDW. The metagame at Montag’s has tended toward aggro the last couple weeks with not much UW or UWr, so those just didn’t seem good. I wavered between SuperFriends and throwing together a Naya Vengevine deck, and decided that since I had played SuperFriends two weeks ago I should go back to Naya, which was my favorite deck pre-Rise. Also, I have a set of the promo Woolly Thoctars that I got signed by the artist at GP Houston and I hadn’t yet actually played them, so this was an excuse to show those off (along with my signed FNM promo Bloodbraid.) Here’s what I played:

4 Noble Hierarch
4 Lotus Cobra
2 Stoneforge Mystic
4 Cunning Sparkmage
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Bloodbraid Elf
3 Woolly Thoctar
4 Vengevine
2 Baneslayer Angel
Other spells
1 Basilisk Collar
1 Behemoth Sledge
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Ajani Vengeant
4 Arid Mesa
2 Terramorphic Expanse
5 Forest
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Mountain
2 Plains
2 Raging Ravine
1 Sejiri Steppe
2 Stirring Wildwood
2 Sunpetal Grove
2 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Quasli Pridemage
1 Behemoth Sledge
2 Kor Firewalker
2 Pithing Needle
2 Manabarbs
1 Bojuka Bog
2 Path to Exile

We had a good turnout, so five rounds of Swiss cutting to top 8.

Round 1: Travis, playing Turboland
This was the first appearance of Turboland at Montag’s that I was aware of, and I hadn’t really thought about boarding for it. Game 1 was just stupid. I mulled to six and kept a 1-lander because it had two Cobras and a mystic, so if I drew into a second land I’d be fine. I didn’t, and he got the god draw: Cobra into Oracle into more land into a turn 4 Avenger. I still had a single land on the table and nothing else, and just scooped to it. Game 2 he boarded in two Roil Elementals and drew them both early, and I just didn’t have answers. This was a bad, bad way to start the night.
0-1 matches, 0-2 games

Round 2: Kris, playing Naya
I seem to end up playing Kris a lot. I have a really good record against him overall, though he was my only loss in the Rise prerelease, which was enough to keep me out of the top 8 on tiebreaks. Anyway, these games were pretty uneventful, unfortunately. Both games he got land flooded to my very fast starts both times, and I just ran him over.
1-1 matches, 2-2 games

Round 3: Jeff, playing UG Landfall
This was the most fun match of the night, even though I ended up punting it. Jeff is a really fun guy to play against, very good-natured. I had played against this deck before some months ago. It’s mostly a mill deck with lots of ramp, Archive Traps and Hedron Crabs. His alternate win condition is Rampaging Baloths and a pair of Platinum Angels. Game 1 I got a ripping start, with a turn 3 Thoctar and a turn 4 Vengevine, so I swung for 9 on turn 4. He got Garruk and untapped lands, but on turn 5 I got another Vengevine. I decided to ignore Garruk and swing for lethal, but he stopped the Thoctar with an Into the Roil, so I only hit for 8, putting him at 3. He had ramped some and put out a Baloth and made a token, but I put down a Baneslayer since he had no flyers. He made more tokens and I swung with the Angel, but he had another Roil and on his turn made some more tokens and dropped a Platinum Angel. Here’s where I blew it. I put down a Sparkmage with a Collar, and instead of killing the Baloth, I killed the Angel. Dumb. He Harrowed at the end of my turn, and had five 4/4 beast tokens, a 3/3 beast token, and Garruk at 5 counters. Lethal overrun, of course—I should have killed the Baloths first, then dealt with the Angel later. Ugh. Game 2 I got another good start, turn 3 Knight and turn 4 Vengevine, swinging for 7 on turn 4. I next tried a Manabarbs but he had a Negate. I beat him down to 1 and he dropped a Platinum Angel. Ugh. I tried to Path it, but he countered it. I got a Sparkmage out, but no Collar, and shot him to 0. He drew a Crab and started milling me while I was hoping to draw some way to kill the Angel. It took a while. I drew a Mystic and tutored for a Collar, but he Negated that, as well. Grr. Mill, mill. I finally drew another Path and this time he didn’t have the counter, so I won. Game 3 I don’t remember the details quite as well; we had time called on us early in the game. I had much better board position and had beaten him down to 8 but could not swing for lethal on my last turn, so we ended as a draw. I had lethal the next turn, ugh.
1-1-1 matches, 3-3-1 games

Round 4: Bob, playing Wrb
His deck had some random white dudes including Baneslayers and he ran a full set of Paths and Terminates as well as some Bolts. He was also running Ethersworn Canonist, which was actually a real annoyance. Game 1 took forever. I got a Vengevine Pathed, he had the Terminate for my Baneslayer. I got a Collar but the Sparkmage got Bolted. I got the Collar on a Thoctar and started gaining obscene amounts of life but he had chump blockers. I got up to 36 life but it took me a while to finally get through as he eventually Terminated the Thoctar and was getting through with some of his stuff. Bob was not a fast player and I could see the writing on the wall here, and tried to play faster myself in Game 2, which turned out to be all about his 2 Baneslayers and my inability to kill both of them. On to Game 3. I managed to stick an early Baneslayer and she got through twice before eating a Terminate. Time was called, and when our fifth turn ran out he was at 5 and I was at 31 and had lethal on the board—I needed exactly one more turn to kill him. Argh!! I was pretty annoyed since he was so slow and I had it, plus I couldn’t afford another draw so this knocked me out of Top 8 contention.
1-1-2 matches, 4-4-2 games

Round 5: Andrew, playing Junk
His build was not the same as the one I had been testing. His had Emeria Angels and no Vengevines. Game 1 was a quick beating. He got an Emeria Angel turn 4, I never drew any fliers or enough pressure, he got another Emeria, and I died to a swarm of flying tokens. Game 2 was another long, drawn-out attrition war. He always had the answers early: Path for Vengevine, Pulse for Elspeth, etc. I finally managed to actually stick a Baneslayer, but he got down a Thornling with a Collar on it. I had a Collared Sparkmage of my own, but of course that couldn’t kill Thornling, but I slowly picked off his Hierarchs so his Thornling wouldn’t get the Exalted triggers. I eventually got a Sledge on the the table and chumped the Thornling, meaning I was gaining more life per turn than him, and eventually was able to add to the Baneslayer and swing for lethal with it along with a Ravine and something else. This took a long time, though, and I knew we were again in danger of a draw. We did indeed get time called on us a few turns into Game 3, but I Bloodbraided into a Sparkmage and managed to swing for 1 less than lethal with a Sledged Ravine and finish with the ping.
2-1-2 matches, 6-5-2 games

Of course, I missed the top 8 with that record. I was a little annoyed because I really should have won rather than drawn in rounds 3 and 4. Round 3 it was my own fault for punting game 1, round 4 I felt was my opponent’s fault for slow play, particularly in game 1.

I stayed to watch some of the top 8, though. Amazingly, a guy playing Vampires made it to the final match, beating RDW in both the quarters and the semis. Hunh? The other semi was an Esper deck featuring Jace, Baneslayer, and Persecutor vs. Brilliant Ultimatum, which was a pretty interesting match. I didn’t stay for the final match, though. I still want to know how Vampires made it that far… that just seems wrong.

M11 pre-release on Sunday afternoon. Should be something!

FNM Report, 7/2/2010

So, I was on the road Sunday through Thursday and didn’t really have time to test or brew, so I went back to my old buddy, Mythic Conscription. Montag’s didn’t have quite the turnout of the week before, possibly because of either the holiday weekend or the outrageous torrential downpours we’ve been getting off the edges of hurricane Alex. 4 rounds of Swiss, cut to top 8. Here’s the list I played:

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Noble Hierarch
4 Lotus Cobra
2 Dauntless Escort
4 Knight of the Reliquary
3 Baneslayer Angel
4 Sovereigns of Lost Alara

2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
2 Gideon Jura

Other spells
1 Finest Hour
2 Eldrazi Conscription
3 Celestial Colonnade
4 Forest
1 Glacial Fortress
2 Island
1 Marsh Flats
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Plains
2 Sejiri Steppe
2 Stirring Wildwood
2 Sunpetal Grove
2 Verdant Catacombs
3 Negate
2 Bant Charm
3 Kor Firewalker
3 Emerge Unscathed
2 Linvala, Keeper of Silence
2 Qasali Pridemage

Round 1: Marcus, playing Esper Artifacts
Marcus was a new face at Montag’s which is always good to see. I have to be honest, I felt bad about how this one went. Both games I used ramp and Jace to get out an early Sovereign and beat him down with it; in the second game it was turn 3 off a pair of Lotus Cobras. It was pretty bad.
1-0 matches, 2-0 games

Round 2: Daniel, playing Jund
I’ve played Daniel at least once before. Actually, we ID’d in the fifth round about a month ago. I knew he was playing Jund, which is generally a pretty good matchup for Mythic. Game 1 I got out a couple Knights of the Reliquary. He tried to Pulse one but I had it without summoning sickness and was able to sac a Plains for a Steppe. Next turn I got down a Baneslayer, and that was it. Game 2 I kept a hand I should not have kept: six lands and a Dauntless Escort. I got beat down, of course Game 3 was pretty funny. I had a Bird and a two Cobras early, and Bant Charmed a Thrinax to swing for 4. He generated another Thrinax and the only card in hand was a Conscription. I drew a sixth land, dropped it, and hard-cast the Conscription on one of the Cobras (he was tapped out). The best part about hard-casting a Conscription is you get the annihilator trigger. He sac’d the Thrinax and a land. He dropped another land and Terminated the Conscripted Cobra, and I was able to kill him with a activated Colonnade.
2-0 matches, 4-1 games

Round 3: Trevor, playing Jund
Trevor is a Montag’s regular, or semi-regular at least. Game 1 he got an early Geopede and I had a pair of Hierarchs and a Cobra. I managed a Knight and then a Gideon and that got me the rest of the way. I don’t really remember the details of Game 2 all that well, but it was a Kor Firewalker and a Knight that carried it.
3-0 matches, 6-1 games

Round 4: Tony, playing Next Level Bant
I was rounded down, but guaranteed to make it to the top 8, and Tony decided his tiebreakers were good enough for us to ID. Joe and John were also 3-0 and they also drew, and so Joe and John taught Tony and me how to play Dominion. Good times.
3-0-1 matches, 6-1 games

Quarterfinals: Nolan, playing 4-color Warp World
I knew it was a wild homebrew with Avenger of Zendikar in it, but not much else. Game 1 was pretty silly. I managed a Cobra on turn 2 off a Hierarch, then a fetch into a Baneslayer on turn 3, then a fetch into a Sovereign on turn 4. I didn’t really see anything from him other than a Birds and a Trace of Abundance. Just in case, I sided in the Pridemages for the Escorts. Game 2 was a bit more drawn out. I got a Knight and a Jace out, and then managed one whack with a Baneslayer before it died to a combination of a Path (to draw out a Steppe) and Siege-Gang tokens. I was fatesealing with Jace and got down Elspeth and a second Knight, and they carried the day.
4-0-1 matches, 8-1 games

Semifinals: John, playing RDW
These games went really poorly. Game 1 I opened with no source of green and multiple green cards, then mulled to 6: four land, a Conscription, and a Sovereign. I went to 5, and it was four land and a Conscription. Ugh. I didn’t think I could win with 4 so I kept. He of course got a turn 1 Guide and I kept drawing nothing but mana dorks, which he burned each time I cast one. I finally got a Knight, but he burned me down to 3. I dropped a Sovereign and swung with the Knight, putting him at 5 and dead next turn, but he finally managed his third land and killed me with a Hell’s Thunder. Game 2 I took an OK hand: a forest and a plains, two mana creatures, a Firewalker, an Escort, and something expensive (Gideon?). Unfortunately, I didn’t draw a third land and he burned off both the mana dorks, so I never got a second source of white. I eventually got the Dauntless out, but that was it… burned to death.

So, I finished 4-1-1 in matches, 8-3 in games; not too bad, really. For finishing in the top 4 I got like $15 in store credit, so not bad at all.

I stayed to watch the final, which was John’s RDW against Tony’s Next Level Bant. Tony pulled it out in three games; John got a little mana-flooded in the third game. This was the first time I’d seen Next Level Bant at Montag’s other than the time I played it

So, one more week of Standard before we switch to drafting M11, and then M11 will be in play, so one more week of the current environment. I’m not sure what I’ll play. The Junk deck that should, in theory, be good hasn’t tested very well in the limited time I’ve given it, so I’m not sure what route to take. I saw almost no UW or Super Friends this week, so maybe something along that line. We’ll see.