January 8th, 2011
OK, so welcome to 2011! Here’s my first report for the new year. Standard at Montag’s Games, my local shop.
Last Standard I played a BUG deck that I really, really liked. However, I have a “no repeats” rule for Standard so I had to find something else to play. I really liked Sovereign Conscription before Shards block rotated out, and Quest has a similar feel to it. I had done some playtesting with the standard mono-White version of the deck, and I just never really liked it that much, despite really liking the Quest-into-Argentum Armor mechanic. I’d seen a list running Blue for some interesting tweaks, but I still just didn’t like it against decks like RUG and UB.
However, I’ve always really liked Vengevine and Fauna Shaman, and I put together a version running those and I liked it a lot better. The Fauna Shaman makes it easy to cut down some of the suboptimal cards in the mono-White list, like Kor Outfitter. The Vengevines give you a much better game against permission and removal, and Green also gives you a fun 1-of, Beastmaster Ascension. It seemed like it was worth a go. Here’s the final list that I played:
Quest for the Fauna Vine
One of the regulars, Tony, who has become less regular because of a loss of cards (long story) showed up but couldn’t play because he didn’t have a deck. He asked me if I had an extra one (I had loaned him Dredgevine a few months back) and so I loaned him the BUG deck I played last time. This will become relevant later.
Turnout was a little on the small side, not a huge surprise coming off the holidays and all, so four rounds of Swiss cutting to top 4.
Round 1: Dan, playing Gbu Genesis Wave
Dan was brand-new to the store, having just moved here a few days ago. He’s also getting back into the game after a hiatus, which I can certainly identify with. Game 1 I didn’t get the fastest start but got a Sword active and that was definitely enough. Game 2 was utterly stupid. I opened with Quest, Birds, Shaman, and four lands. Not a great hand but turn 1 Quest isn’t bad. So, next I drew land. And then land. Then land. In fact, I drew land for 8 straight turns before he finally killed me, having done nothing of any real use. The deck has only 22 lands and 30 creatures, and not a single non-land card appeared. Game 3 was again not the fastest start, he mostly got a lot of ramp and thus had a ton of land out. He was at 9 and I was at 20. All I had out was a Vengevine, he played an Ob and passed the turn. I had a second Vine in my hand so I cast it and swung with both, putting him at 1. He topdecked a Wave, Waved for four, and hit three lands, one of which was an Evolving Wilds, meaning I took 12 direct and the one swing from Ob was lethal. In all likelihood I misplayed this somewhere, which I didn’t have space for given game 2, in which I could have done nothing different to win. I was a bit displeased with myself.
0-1 matches, 1-2 games
Round 2: Jason, playing GB Infect
Jason is a regular, and he’s been playing this deck for quite a while. This was about a five-minute match. I got Quest on turn 1 both games, and did silly things with the 0-artifacts and Glint Hawks both times. I took a total of 2 poison counters in game 1 and none in game 2.
1-1 matches, 3-2 games
Round 3: Chris, playing WU Myr
Chris is also new to the shop, and also just came back to the game after a really extended hiatus—since Mirage! That’s an even longer break than the ten years I took. Chris said he only got back in the game Monday, which seemed pretty amazing. The deck was interesting, kind of a light Standard version of the Extended Tempered Steel deck. Myrsmith, lots of mana Myr, Steel Overseer, Tempered Steel, Chimeric Mass, some counters. Good concept. However, it was short on removal. Game 1 I got a Sword early, which wasn’t really great, but certainly wasn’t awful, but I eventually triggered a Quest and ended it quickly. Game 2 I got an early Shaman and when he dropped a Tempered Steel, I tutored up Kor Sanctifiers. I again eventually got a Quest to go and again ended it quickly.
2-1 matches, 5-2 games
Round 4: Mike, playing WW Knights
Mike is a semi-regular at Montag’s, but I’m not sure if we’ve ever actually played before. Game 1 we both mulled to six with me on the play. It wasn’t a great hand but I kept it. Turns out he kept a one-lander, and while he had three one-drops, all Students of Warfare, I had a Vengevine on turn 3, which was just too much. I boarded in the Ousts and out the Sword and the Mystic. He got a Knight Exemplar and then a Kemba Skyguard, which is actually pretty good, though I had a Beastmaster Ascension. I also managed to get a Quest, but counters were slow in coming until I got a Squadron Hawk, and once that happened, I worked up to getting the Quest and then the Ascension, and that was just too much.
3-1 matches, 7-2 games
Made the cut to the top 4, but of course you knew how this would work out…
Semis: Tony, playing my BUG deck
Of course. Joe and Tony both asked me who was favored, knowing I had gone through this matchup numerous times. In general, pre-sideboard, the Quest deck has a small edge, but post-sideboard it’s a coin flip, as Disfigure, Consume the Meek, and Acidic Slime are all really good against this. Game 1 I got a Sword in my opener and dropped it turn 3 and it went all the way. I boarded in the second Mystic, the Ousts, the Veil, the Lightcaster, and maybe the Journey (not sure on that one). Game 2 I got a turn 2 Mystic and got the Sword, but the Sword got Leaked. He dropped Ob on turn 5 and I came back on my turn 5 with the Lightcaster, which seemed like a pretty sweet play. I beat him down to 9 and then (finally) got a Quest, but he pulled a Consume which wiped my board completely. He got out a Frosty and beat me up before I could get the Quest active. Game 3 was a train wreck. No early Quest, he ramped into an early Slime, hitting one of my two sources of green, and pinning the Vengevine in my hand. He then got Frosty out again and I just never drew an answer. Grr.
Tony drew in the finals. As a rental fee, I confiscated his promo Chalice. I pulled in more store credit than my entry fee for finishing in the top 4, too, so that was good.
So, the deck. It certainly has amazing draws, and the Hawk-Shaman-Vengevine engine is wonderful. The problem is that if you don’t get a Quest early, you’re still playing with a lot of really substandard cards (e.g., Ornithoper) and that puts you at a disadvantage against a decent deck. If your opponent has good ways to deal with artifacts and/or enchantments, it’s also not as good, but not a lot of decks pack a great deal of that so I didn’t see that as a big problem. And hey, at least I lost to my own deck…