Standard-for-a-box Report, 11/30/2010

So, on the occasional Tuesday night, my local game shop, Montag’s, runs a Standard-for-a-box tournament. Normally this isn’t a good night for me (my kids have piano lessons on Tuesday night) but sometimes it’s my wife’s turn for piano and I am not completely stomped at work and can actually play on a weeknight. However, with the holiday and other work constraints, I had no time to tinker or build, so I literally just grabbed whatever I happened to have together at the time. However, that wasn’t bad, as because what I had together was this:

This is Alexander Shearer’s deck, and it looked like a blast to play and I figured nobody would be ready for it, so I figured why not? I wish I had some time to practice with it beforehand as I went in cold having never played it, but you know, it’s not like it was a PTQ or anything. I have to say, this deck wants Noble Hierarch back in the worst possible way.

Turnout was OK for a weeknight, four rounds of Swiss and cut to top 4.

Round 1: Lee, playing GR
This was Lee’s first tournament and the deck was, I think, a Scars precon with a few customizations. I pretty much steamrolled him in both games. In one of them I got a third-turn Baneslayer off a Cobra and a fetchland, which is pretty much broken against any deck light on removal. In the other game I got Squadron Hawks with Masticore, which is also pretty evil. I actually felt kind of bad about the whole thing, but Lee was cool about it, so that was good.
1-0 matches, 2-0 games

Round 2: Matt, playing RUG
Matt is a regular and we get matched up pretty routinely. I had a turn 2 Cobra and a fetch in hand for a Baneslayer, but he had a Bolt for the Cobra. I had no three-drop, and that put me seriously behind, and his deck did the RUG thing and just kind of barfed up a bunch of stuff I couldn’t handle. Game 2 I mulled to six and kept a hand with no source of Blue but two Shamans, which seemed reasonable. Unfortunately, he kept a hand with two Bolts in the opener, and I never drew a source of Blue, so this wasn’t a particularly good game, either.
1-1 matches, 2-2 games

Round 3: Casey, playing GR
Casey came with Lee. He’s not a new player overall, but newly back in the game. This was again a completely unfair matchup and I again managed a turn 3 Baneslayer in one of the games. Turns out a Wall of Tanglecord will actually hold off the big angel for a while, but it’s not what you’d call a good long-term answer. But, really, neither of these games were close.
2-1 matches, 4-2 games

Round 4: Mike, playing UW Control
I had actually played Mike at FNM on the 19th, me playing RUG and him playing UB. We played a pretty good 2-1 match in which I prevailed, but it was certainly one of those that could have gone either way. Game 1 I over-extended a little bit into a Day, but I wasn’t that worried about it because I had a Vine in hand and one in the yard, but my deck deserted me and I just could not draw threats late and could not trigger the Vines. I managed to drag it out with Colonnades, but he gained a ton of life with repeated Elixers off Trinket Mages, and I just could not get there. Game 2 I came out with a 2-drop and an early Vine, and put him back on his heels. He did Day them off and did manage a couple Elixers, but I managed to keep the pressure on and eventually triggered a pair of Vines out the graveyard for the win. Game 3 he mulled down to six and didn’t seem happy about it. I had a turn 2 Cobra into a turn 3 Acidic Slime, which took out a dual land, and I figured that was pretty good to get him behind on land, but his problem was more land flood than anything, and I was drawing threats and just overwhelmed him.
3-1 matches, 6-3 games

So I made the top 4 and drew…

Semis: Joe, playing UB Control
Joe recently made top 4 at the TCGPlayer WWS in Austin with this deck; he is consistently the best player at the store, and I’ve lost to him in the semis multiple times recently, once at Scars Game Day and in the last two draft FNMs in October. A brief check on the DCI page tells me that I was 1-6-2 against Joe going into this one; not what you’d call a stellar record. Anyway, in Game 1 he Disfigured a early Bird and an early Cobra, but I managed to get a Sword out and get it equipped on a Squadron Hawk. He got a Wurmcoil but I had the Journey in hand to stop it, and that gave me a couple more hits with the equipped Hawk, which got me some tokens and just generally made life difficult for Joe. I did not draw well in game 2 and got pretty much rolled; I got a Masticore on turn 3 off a Bird and the Masticore immediately ate a Doom Blade and I just could not draw threats. Game 3 was interesting and really drawn out. We spent far too much time in this game with me simply activating a Colonnade and hitting Joe with it while Joe would swing back with a Tar Pit into my Venser. I kept blinking a Forest with Venser so he’d gain counters, so Joe had to swing at him to prevent him from going ultimate. In the interim he gained a bunch of life off a couple Elixir activations, but fundamentally the problem was that all I could draw was Journey to Nowhere. Eventually my hand consisted of all three Journeys and my board was all lands and a Sword. I probably should have sided one of them out (I had sided in the Slime, Gideon, and Venser for a Sunblast Angel and I don’t remember what else.) I did get Joe down to 2 at one point, but an Elixir took care of that and I eventually died because I just couldn’t draw threats. Actually another land would have been good enough so that I could equip a Colonnade with the Sword and then swing, and then I’d have had a token to equip. Grr. Overall I think the deck has a perfectly decent matchup here, but you do have to at least occasionally draw a threat. Oh, well.
3-2 matches, 7-5 games

I’m glad I got to play the deck, since it’s fun—probably just about any deck with Fauna Shaman and Vengevine is likely to have a good “fun” factor—but it wasn’t exactly a stringent test of the deck’s quality, since my rounds 1 and 3 were pretty close to byes. On the other hand, I felt like it was clear that the only way this deck “feels” right is if you get an early 2-drop, either a Cobra or a Shaman, to stick. I do wish that I had time to change the sideboard before I went, because I really wanted to try Autumn’s Veil as a foil to UB.

My next Standard will probably be another Tuesday night, the 21st, since December is Scars draft at Montag’s, and I’ll have to miss the next two weeks of that and also the last two weeks of the month, so I won’t get much MTG in until January when we go back to Standard.