September 19th, 2010
So, this was the last Standard for me that includes Shards cards, because I won’t be able to make FNM next week and after that at Montag’s Games we switch to drafting Scars. So, I wanted to play something that depended heavily on Shards cards. I haven’t played Mythic Conscription in a while, so I went ahead with that. Here’s the list:
This deck or some version of it is the deck I’ve probably played the most since Rise came out, and of course the critical card (Sovereigns) and the best supporting cards (Hierarch, Knight of the Reliquary) rotate out shortly. I didn’t play the version with Explore because I frankly still think that in a lot of games, an unanswered Baneslayer is just too good. Yes, it’s slower than Explore and I planned to side it out against fast decks like Dredgevine and control decks, but against everything else she’s still a beating.
Anyway, last week we had a pretty good turnout, but this week less than 20 people showed up. 15, I think? Anyway, that meant only four rounds, cutting to the top 4, so not a lot of room for mistakes.
Round 1: Carlos, playing FauNaya
Carlos has been playing Naya for what seems like forever. He and I seem to draw each other a lot, and we have a habit of alternating wins back and forth. Last time I played him was the M11 prerelease and I won, so it was his turn… and that’s how it went. Game 1 was back and forth. He Bolted my Jace and Pathed a Baneslayer, but I Leaked a couple of his early plays so we had both accomplished very little into the midgame. However, he managed to stick a Sparkmage before I could get down a Sovereign and he started blowing up my mana dudes, and I never caught up. For sideboarding, I took out the Baneslayers in favor of Linvalas, and two mana dorks in favor of the two O Rings. Game 2 was horrible. I drew little else besides mana dorks and land, and he got a Shaman into a Sparkmage and I just kept drawing land and dorks that die to the Mage. Completely ugly all the way around—truly awful draws in the second game.
0-1 matches (0-2 games)
Round 2: Matt, playing Esper Control
I knew what he was playing because I had seen a bit of his last match as I had some time to kill after losing to Carlos. Game 1 my opening seven was five land, a Knight, and a Baneslayer, so I sent that packing. My opening six was better, but not enough. I never saw a Sovereign and we traded Jaces at least once, and by the end of the game I had seen all four Birds, three Hierarchs, and three Cobras, with both a Jace and and Elspeth under O Rings. I never managed to kill him with all that because he got an early Gideon that he kept making me attack, and I kept dinking at it but not killing it, leaving him time to find answers. It was all very ugly and took a really long time. I sided in the Spell Pierces and the O Rings for the Banslayers and I don’t remember what else. Game 2 I opened with a one-lander (via Island), had something also completely awful with six cards, had zero land at five cards, and took a four-card opener with two lands, a Noble, and a Mana Leak. That’s awful, I know, but I couldn’t very well take the no-lander. Anyway, I Leaked his turn 2 play, a Wall of Omens, on the theory that I had to leak ANY play from him, especially one that saw him go up a card. My fourth land was a manland, and his fourth land was a Tectonic Edge. He decided that it was better to keep me off land, and he Wasted my Colonnade… then got stuck on three lands for several turns. I managed to draw both of my Spell Pierces and both of them were game-wreckers. I pierced a Day, and later pierced a Mana Leak to let my Jace resolve, and the resulting Brainstorm got me my Sovereigns for the win. Yay! I don’t think I’ve ever won going down to four cards before. Game 3 we had time called on us pretty early into the game, so we had five turns to finish it off. I got a Sovereign out and Conscripted a Cobra, but he had two open for Doom Blade and he actually had it, so we ended up drawing. Grr.
Round 3: Amy, playing Soul Sisters
I got rounded down and played an 0-2 instead of a 1-1, so it was probably over for me, but whatever, I came to play. I played Amy last week and I was sort of hoping to avoid her because I wasn’t sure about this matchup and didn’t really have anything in the sideboard for it. Seems like the plan is to just kill them before they hit 30 life, right? Game 1 she got up to 25 life, but then I put down Jace, then a Baneslayer, then a Sovereign, and it was over with the 17/17 lifelinked, flying, first-striking trampler on board. I knew she’d bring in Paths and maybe O Rings and even possibly Day against me, so I sided in the Spell Pierces and took out two mana dorks. I did not get enough action early. I got stuck on four land and a Noble with a Baneslayer and three Sovereigns in hand. I had to put out the Baneslayer just to chump block a huge Ascendant that was pumped with Elspeth. I used my lone Knight to coerce six mana from my stack just to put out another blocker, not that it could stop the Ascendant, but when she Rangered into two more 6/6 fliers, it was over. Game 3 I had a nutty start. Turn 1 Bird. Turn 2 cast a Cobra, drop a fetch, and with the three mana, cast another Cobra and another Bird. I drew all kinds of permission, Leaking an Ascendant, Piercing the O Ring for my Jace, Leaking a Ranger. I got Elspeth and was getting through with a jumping Cobra but even Brainstorming every turn I hadn’t found a finisher. I finally found a Ranger and got a shuffle, and the resulting Brainstorm got me a Sovereign, game.
Round 4: Doug, playing GW singleton
The store is going to have a singleton Standard on a Tuesday night toward the end of the month, so Doug decided to give his a whirl in a real Type 2 and was 2-1 with it. I actually saw the tail end of his last round match, and he won by topdecking exactly what he needed like every turn. It was a thing of beauty, unless of course you were his opponent. Game 1 I got an early Knight Pathed, but that ramped me into an early Baneslayer and he had no flying answer, so that was game. I didn’t know what exactly to expect, I figured he at least had Elspeth and Gideon plus Path and O Ring, and maybe Plummet, so I sided in the two Spell Pierces for two mana dorks. Game 2 I got double Cobras, but he had opened with two fetches and a Terramorphic so his third-turn Knight of the Reliquary was large. I did get a land (not a fetch, though) a turn later and used that to grab a Sovereign, but he had the Path for the huge Cobra. I still had a Sovereign on the table, but unfortunately I had the other Conscription in my hand so he wasn’t doing much. I kept hoping to draw Jace so I could Brainstorm it back in, but no dice, I drew mana dorks who got to stand in front of Doug’s Knight, and of course another Sovereign. He had something else down, but then I drew a Baneslayer and swing in with both the Angel and the Sovereign (don’t think I ever swung with a Sovereign + something else before) and finally hit the mana to hard-cast the Conscription for game.
It wasn’t enough for top 4… I was fifth. Grr. Oh well. I don’t think there was anything I could have done differently in the first round to have won it with the draws I got—for sure not in the second game—but I might have made a mistake somewhere in the second match where a win rather than a draw would have given me a shot to get in. Oh well.
It’ll be a little odd to see Shards go. I came back to the game when Zendikar came out, so in one sense it’ll be nice to have a Standard environment where I’ve actually been around for the release of all the cards. On the other, some of the cards that I’ve come to consider staples and cards I just really like won’t be around anymore. Staples like Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring will be missed. I’ve always loved Knight of the Reliquary. I certainly won’t miss Cascade cards, though even I played Bloodbraids in Boss Naya for a while. I’ll miss Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Ajani Vengeant, I always liked both of those. I won’t miss Hellspark Elemental or Hell’s Thunder, or even Cruel Ultimatum. I will miss Sedraxis Spectre, that was a card I really liked. I like Zealous Persecution, too, that was fun, but I’ll be happy to see Maelstrom Pulse go by the wayside. Terminate and Blightning, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. I’d miss Swerve but since Redirect is in M11, that’s covered. Banefire and Countersquall, those I’ll miss, along with the Charms. I always like Charms—I hope there’s a cycle of them in the Scars block somewhere. There aren’t any lands in Shards that I’ll miss; I never liked the tri-color tapped lands, but I understand they needed to be in there. (When the Zendikar fetch lands rotate out, that’ll be deeply weird unless there’s a new cycle of fetches printed. I’d be cool with opposing-color fetches in the post-Scars block.) I didn’t initially like Exalted but it really grew on me. It’ll definitely be weird to play in a world without Noble Hierarch. In my first go-round as a Magic player back in the late 90s, I don’t think I ever played a deck with green in it in a constructed event, ever. Post-Worldwake, I’ve played a lot of green. Valakut Ramp, Boss Naya, Mythic. We’ll see what Scars brings, but I have a hard time seeing myself continuing to play as much green without the Noble.
Anyway, that’ll be it for a while. I’m probably going to miss the prerelease and we’ll be drafting at Montag’s until November and the only limited reports I do are pre-releases, so that’ll probably be it for MTG posts until November.