December 31st, 2011
So, my 11 year old son Simon and I went to FNM at Montag’s Games for the first time in a while since I had been on the road on Friday nights for the last three weeks. We both did OK—Simon did much better, and I’ll explain that as well. The other thing is that I think these are two of the best decks in Standard right now, but that doesn’t say much, because Standard is fantastic right now with so many viable decks that “best” really means “I like somewhat better than the others.”
Anyway, here are the decks we played:
That’s what I played. My son Simon played this:
Uw Delver Illusions
I’ll go over mine first.
Round 1: Audra, playing Kessig Ramp
This is a matchup that I ought to be able to win, but nothing is certain. Game 1 I opened with a Nexus, then a Stinger on turn 2, then a Specter on turn 3. She burned the Specter but I got a Lashwrithe on the Stinger and that carried it. Game 2 she mulled to six and I kept a slightly sketchy hand and ended up paying for it. I ultimately had a huge Phyrexian Crusader with a Lashwrithe on it, but she was generating wolf tokens with a flipped Mayor of Avabruck and they were chumping. She eventually drew a Primeval Titan and got the Kessing she needed to make her Nexus lethal. Game 3 I mulled to six and opened with a Nexus, then a Spellskite, then a Plague Stinger, then a Trigon. The Spellskite kept the Stinger safe from all her burn spells and mostly what she did was ramp and then die to the pumped Stinger. It was good that I had the Stinger/Trigon because I never drew a fourth land at all.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games
Round 2: Josh, playing UG Splinterfright
He was playing something pretty close to the event deck. I opened with Nexus then Stinger, then Spectre and had him pitch four cards, which actually wasn’t all that great since his next card was a Boneyard Wurm, and then he Mulched to make the Wurm a 7/7. However, I got Skittles next and won that race. Game 2 I got the turn 4 kill. Turn 2 Stinger, turn 3 Piston Sledge, turn 4 Trigon for the win. Nice when you know your opponent has minimal removal. The whole match took like 10-15 minutes.
2-0 matches, 4-1 games
Round 3: Simon
So, Simon was 1-1 at this point, and since I was 2-0, I scooped to Simon to not eliminate him. I knew this would make it harder for me, but I figured it was the least I could do for him since the last time we were in an elimination situation for the top 8 he opted to play and I won, which made him pretty unhappy. So this time I gave him the win.
2-1 matches, 4-1 games
Round 4: Chris, playing Solar Flare
Neither of these games were particularly quick. Game 1 we traded back and forth and at one point he Snapcasted back a Mana Leak and that Snapcaster got me down to like 10, but I got a Specter out and ate his hand, then was free to cast a Skittles and that went all the way. Game 2 was kind of a mess in terms of board state but I got out a Lashwrithe, got him tapped out except for one Isolated Chapel, then got out a second Lashwrithe and double-equipped a Nexus for the win.
3-1 matches, 6-1 games
Round 5: John, playing UW Delver Illusions
So, the situation was that if all the 3-1s drew, then one of them would not make it on tiebreaks. My breaks were not that good anyway, and I did this once before only to have my son Simon be the one who missed on tiebreaks, so I decided to play it out even though I knew my matchup wasn’t very good and I knew Simon would draw. It’s not unwinnable, but it’s not great. If they draw a lot of Vapor Snags you can only win if you have a Spellskite out. Game 1 I got a Spellskite, but he got a turn 3 Geist and I had no answers. He smartly Snagged the ‘Skite when it mattered and had a Gut Shot for my one Stinger and I was too far behind for the Skittles to matter. Game 2 I mulled to six and kept an OK hand, but no Spellskite, and he drew three Snags and a Snapcaster and I had no chance.
3-2 matches, 6-3 games
We found out after that if I had drawn, I would have been eighth. Grr. The good news is that Simon finished 7th. Now, he doesn’t take any kind of notes so I don’t have a full report from him, but I know his matchups and his outcomes, so I’ll recap those:
Round 1: Chris playing Mono-U Grand Architect
Simon won this one, though I don’t know many of the details. I guess in game 3 his opponent stalled on two land after Simon had been flooded in game 1.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games
Round 2: Dillon playing BantPod
Simon lost this match, though he should have won it. Late in game 3 Simon had an empty board and his opponent, who had no Pod in play, tapped out to cast a Wurmcoil Engine. Simon, who was stuck on only 3 land, copied the Engine with an Image, but then did NOT use the Vapor Snag in his hand. Dillon of course untapped, played a Pod, and podded into Elesh Norn. Oops.
1-1 matches, 3-3 games
Round 3: Freebie from dad!
2-1 matches, 3-3 games
Round 4: GW Humans
This one also went three games. Apparently in one game that he won, Simon had a Lord out and was able to copy a Hero of Bladehold with an Image, and in another, he had the “Bear, Lord, Image copying Lord” opener.
3-1 matches, 5-4 games
Round 5: Kessig ramp
Simon chose to ID since his opponent was #2 in the standings so Simon figured his breakers would improve and he’d lock up a spot. Turns out he was right.
3-1-1 matches, 5-4 games
Quarterfinals: Dillon, playing BantPod
This was indeed the rematch from round 2. Since I was out of the top 8, I was going to railbird it, but Simon told me that would make him more nervous, so I took off. Simon carried the first game and told me I could come back to watch, which I did. However, I rather wished I hadn’t. Dillon ramped into a turn 3 Thrun, and Simon ended up just chumping that like crazy for the rest of the match, during which time he drew 10 of his 20 lands. I decided not to watch the decider, which Simon carried and apparently played very well.
4-1-1 matches, 7-5 games
Semifinals: John, playing Uw Delver Illusions
John and I had actually talked about these decks between rounds and he was playing a deck that was maybe 3 or 4 cards different than Simon’s in the main deck. John is a strong player so I didn’t give Simon much chance in this and I decided not to watch. Simon apparently made a couple small mistakes in game 1 and lost it badly, corrected them in game 2 and won easily, and then just got blown out in game 3 by virtue of John having a much better draw.
4-2-1 matches, 8-6 games
So Simon finished in the top 4 and got store credit for the first time ever! He got a nice $17.50 and spent it about a dollar at a time on causal singles (for play with his brother and his school buddies) until everyone was going crazy (it was like 1:00 in the morning at this point) and he used his last $3 on a pack of Mirrodin Besieged, from which he pulled a Bonehoard. Hooray Simon!
Next time, though, I think we’ll just ID.
Some comments on the decks, first on the Infect deck:
• I’m fairly convinced this is the right build, or very nearly so, at least in the maindeck. If I were to change anything in the main, I’d consider putting the Specters in the sideboard.
• I still can’t believe that anybody plays this deck without Trigon of Rage, it just seems ridiculously good.
• I’m also not convinced that the builds that run blue (I mean a real amount of blue, not the token here) in order to run Blighted Agent are really better, since then you lose Lashwrithe. Lashwrithe is excellent. Going two-color also raises the opportunity to be color-screwed or get tempo-hosed by lands coming into play tapped—that never happens with this. This is the only mono-colored deck I’ve played in ages and it is amazingly nice to never have those problems. I see the appeal of RDW sometimes.
• I think maybe the sideboard needs a third Spellskite and desperately needs some better set of answers to Illusions. That’s the only matchup I really worry about. RDW can be tricky, too, but Crusader is really good there. I have no good ideas about dealing with the Delver Illusions deck, it’s just a bad matchup. If anyone out there has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.
Now, some thoughts on the Uw Delver Illusions deck:
• This deck needs a catchier name. “Uw Delver Illusions,” though descriptive, is awful.
• The deck is very strong. It plays a lot like old-school Merfolk, of course, and has both explosive starts and a decent midgame. If the game goes very long then it’s obviously a little weaker.
• Geist of Saint Traft is a really solid card, and should probably be a 3-of rather than a 2-of. I’m thinking of cutting one of the Probes for it.
• Vapor Snag is spectacular in this deck. This is a card that nobody used to play and is now a serious weapon.
• Gut Shot is also surprisingly good. There are way too many 1-toughness creatures in Standard right now.
So, I’ll be brining these two decks with me to play at side events at GP Austin. Who’s going?