Standard-for-a-box Report, 12/21/2010

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.

As it turns out, I needed 18 packs. My brother is coming for a visit soon and we usually do a 1-on-1 Sealed for kicks, and I wanted three packs each for my kids’ Christmas stockings. So I was well-motivated, particularly since last FNM I was expecting draft and we played Standard and the only vaguely reasonable deck I had on me was a really bad build of Valakut, and it was simply awful… I went 1-3.

Now, the last deck I had good success with was RUG. The problem I have with RUG is that it’s soft to both Flashfreeze and Doom Blade and sometimes you just ramp land like crazy into… nothing. So, I thought the right solution might be BUG. Doom Blade is better than Bolt against other Titans (except Grave, of course). And black provides another amazing, non-Blade-able use for all that land… Ob Nixilis, the Fallen. And, of course, that color combination also gives access to a full 8 relevant fetches. It’s a wicked fun deck to play, like a cross between RUG and Valakut, as well as some excellent sideboard options.

12 people, so four rounds of Swiss into top 4… obviously, for a box.

Round 1: Alan, playing UW
Alan isn’t a Montag’s regular, but he’d been there before and we had played each other at least once before this. Game 1 was a long, slow, drawn-out playing-around-each-other’s-Mana Leaks kind of event, assisted by my slow draw and his getting stuck on four lands. But ultimately, the threat density was high enough in my deck to get past his Leaks and Tumble Magnet. It took a very long time, though, but eventually I stuck a Titan and he went all the way. However, we didn’t have much time to get into game 2. He had an advantage and got a Colonnade going but I Bladed it. I got a Primeval Titan, and he Clone’d it and fetched up another Colonnade. I Bladed the Clone, but he came back with Day. I got Jace, which he didn’t kill with the Colonnade (he had to try to kill me instead), but that didn’t work when I got an Acidic Slime. He got another Colonnade, but I bounced the Slime with Jace and re-cast it. That was his offense, and we drew on time.
1-0 matches, 1-0-1 games

Round 2: Joe, playing UB
Joe is a Montag’s regular who I’ve played many times and, frankly, who I had not beaten in a very, very long time. Game 1 did not go very well, as he got an early Mimic Vat through and I have no main-deck ways to handle an active Vat other than a Frost Titan. I actually did get one out, but he managed to Blade it and that was it. Game 2 I managed to get an early Ob plus a fetch, managed to clear out his only blocker, and that was it. Game 3 he got a slightly slow start on land, stuck at 4, and I got an early Frosty and then locked it up with Jace to keep him off drawing any more. Holy crap, I beat Joe!
2-0 matches, 3-1-1 games

Round 3: Victor, playing Elves
Both of these games were dumb. I got an early Lotus Cobra in both games, and then not very much else. Game 1 I did Disfigure a Fauna Shaman and then Bladed a second, but he got a Vengevine and I never got enough in the way. Game 2 I got to a state where I had two Cobras on the board, five lands in play, and two Titans in hand… but I couldn’t cast them, and did not manage to draw another land or anything I could cast. Ugly.
2-1 matches, 3-3-1 games

Round 4: Terry, playing UB
So, I had to win to make it forward. Game 1 was somewhat tentative on both sides, but I ultimately stuck a Grave Titan that he couldn’t kill. Game 2 he got an early Jace 1.0 and managed to draw a ton of cards off of it (he made me draw once in a while) but I managed to cast out an Ob with a Pierce backup, though he didn’t attempt to counter it anyway. He did play a Vampire Nighthawk, though, so I couldn’t swing with Ob. I did, however, have two lands still in hand and I kept drawing more (I did finally draw a Jace to kill his; not a good trade but I had to stop the one-way Howling Mine) and I got him down to 4 this way. He finally swung with the Nighthawk to get back to up 6, but I drew a fetch to end it. “Protection from Doom Blade” is an awesome special ability.
3-1 matches, 5-3-1 games

Semifinals: Alan, playing UW
Same Alan as Round 1. The other semi was Joe vs. Victor, so there was going to be a lot of repetition. Game 1 again took forever, but I eventually ran him out of permission. However, he had a Venser out and I was having a hard time doing damage to Alan since I was keeping Venser off going ultimate. He had two Mystifying Mazes out and I had a Cobra and an Oracle with his two Wall of Omens (one of which was actually a Clone) in the way. I got a Grave and then a Frost Titan out, though, but he got a Tumble Magnet. I managed to get a Jace down and that sealed it as I was able to keep him off Day and then wear him down with my guys. Game 2 I again managed to stick an Ob, drop some land, and clear away the only blocker. Ob is amazing in this deck…
4-1 matches 7-3-1 games

Victor agreed to split, so I got my desired 18 packs and all was well.

I really like this deck a lot and I generally didn’t have great draws today. In playtesting it, I was frequently getting a Cobra on turn 2 and it is, of course, amazing when that happens. However, I didn’t get that very often today, and the deck was still good. RUG was fun and I didn’t lose a match when I played it about a month ago, and it might be a little better against fast aggro decks (Pyroclasm is awesome there), but this thing feels like it really has better staying power against control decks. Ob is the bomb here; there’s nothing quite like Ob in RUG. This is a very fun and resilient deck; I highly recommend it!

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.

FNM Report, 11/19/2010

I had missed FNM the previous week for a “date night” with my wife, and the week before that I had one of the worst MTG nights ever—lost games to getting stuck on 2 land when running 28 land Valakut. Just not my night.

So this week I wanted to take a deck I knew was solid, and so I went with RUG, which has certainly been doing well lately. Here was my build:

It seems trendy right now to run Ruinblasters in the main but I wasn’t so sure and wanted to run the Volition Reins and the Garruk instead. Garruk was awesome—there is no way I would cut him—but the Reins was almost never what I wanted to see. I would cut that and the one in the board if I were to play this again.

Turnout at Montag’s wasn’t very good, so only four rounds cutting to top 4.

Round 1: Mike, playing UB Control
I’d not seen Mike at the shop before so I had no idea what to expect. Game 1 he had only one Island and three Swamps, and I had ramped a little and used Reins on his lone Island, and that quickly ended that game. Game 2 was equally dumb the other way. I had a lot of UU spells in my hand but could not find a second Island for the life of me. He got an early Creeping Tar Pit that went all the way. This is partly my fault as I had sided out most of my Bolts and failed to side in the Ruinblasters. I fixed that and we went to game 3. Game 3 I drew out counters with a Ruinblaster and something else, then stuck Garruk, made a token, and the next turn stuck a Frost Titan. We played counter war after that, but he never stopped my pair of dudes.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games

Round 2: Jason, playing BG Infect
I had been rounded down, so I really had to win this one. Game 1 was pretty bad. He got T1 BoP, turn 2 Plague Stinger, turn 3 Vines of Vastwood (kicked) and I had five poison counters. I never managed to fully stabilize after that because I never drew an answer to the Stinger. Game 2 I had early removal, then ramped into a Frost Titan, then the second Frost Titan, which locked him down completely. Game 3 I got the Oracle/Jace/Cobra engine going and kicked out an Avenger that made 10 plant tokens, then pumped them to 4/5. I attacked for something like 58 total.
2-0 matches, 4-2 games

Round 3: Marvin, playing UB Control
Game 1 we went back and forth a little, countered a few of each other’s things, killed a couple things on each side, but I managed to stick an Avenger and that sealed it. Game 2 I mulliganed down to 5 (two one-land openers) and had trouble getting double green. He hit me with Memoricide for Avenger (I had one in my hand at the time) and I just could not get there when he dropped a Jwar Isle Sphinx. Game 3 he got stuck on two land, but leaked my turn 3 Ruinblaster and then my turn 4 Jace and my turn 5 play, whatever that was. Turn 6 I did stick a Jace, then an Oracle, and that was it.
3-0 matches, 6-3 games

Round 4: Paul, playing RDW
We ID’d since we were guaranteed to be in.
3-0-1 matches, 6-3 games

Semifinals: Carlos, playing UG
Carlos and I have a tendency to alternate who wins, and he won last time, so I felt like I had the upper hand. Game 1 I managed both Garruk and Jace and got an Avenger first, but had to tap out for it, and then he cast… a kicked Rite of Replication. OK, well, then. Game 2 I again got Garruk and Jace, and then I got an Avenger. He came back with a Ratchet Bomb and killed my Beast token and all my plants. I bounced my Avenger with Jace, then re-played it for a new suite of plant tokens, and used Garruk to untap for a counter. He tried something, I countered, he played Jace to kill mine, but I had many plants and Garruk’s ultimate, so that was mine. Game 3 was all about Spell Pierce. On my turn 3 i played a fetch, but didn’t crack it. He went for a Cultivate and I Spell Pierced it. I kept drawing counters, he kept drawing and playing land. Eventually I went up to seven land with a Frost Titan and a Pierce in hand. Carlos played something (I don’t remember what) that I countered, then on my turn I tapped six for the Titan, he countered, and I Pierced his counter. I just held counters in my hand and let the Titan go all the way.
4-0-1 matches, 8-4 games

Finals: Travis, playing Elves
Travis is a Montag’s regular and a cool guy. We decided to split prizes and play for points. He won the roll and got the god draw and just threw a zillion little dudes onto the table. He had turn 1 Llanowar Elf, turn 2 Treespeaker, level, turn 3 Garruk, untap 2, play more Elves, turn 4 Genesis Wave for like three more guys including an archdruid. Yeah. I got what would normally have been considered a good draw: turn 2 Cobra, turn 3 Jace, turn 4 Frost Titan—and I wasn’t even in this game. Yikes. Game 2 I got a turn 2 Explore and then was able to Pyroclasm away two guys on his side, then dropped a Cobra, then Jace, then an Oracle, and that was too much as my deck just spewed a pile of land onto the table and then an Avenger. Game 3 he kept a 1-lander—not usually all that dangerous for Elves—that also had the green Leyline in it. But he had no 1-drop. I ramped into a turn 3 Jace off a Cobra and fatesealed him. My next two turns were Garruk and an Oracle, fatesealing him both times, successfully keeping him off either a second land or a 1-drop, and he scooped.
5-0-1 matches, 10-5 games

The prize pool wasn’t very big because of the low turnout, but I got a Venser and a couple other cards for my trouble, so all in all, a good night. Also nice to not drop a match, of course. After it was over, a few of us stayed and played a couple games of Ascension, which was the first time I had played it. Fun game!

Odd night in that I never lost a match, but all my matches were 2-1. I think this is because the deck has such sensitive mana requirements—you really want both double Blue and double Green available early. It’s not that hard to get with this deck, but when you don’t it’s crippling. Seems like I had trouble with this about once every three games, hence all the 2-1 outcomes. RUG is obviously a strong deck. The Jace/Oracle synergy is, of course, crazy good and if there’s a Cobra in play it’s silly. The Red is almost incidental and I can see why people have been successful using Black in its place. The best part of the Red is Pyroclasm from the sideboard, which is really good against things like Elves and WW. (I have an Ice Age Pyroclasm and I got a lot of comments from bystanders about how cool that is.) The deck is also a little soft to fliers overall since you can never block them, not even chump blocking, so that puts a lot of pressure on to bounce them with Jace or make them the lockdown target for Frost Titan.

Not sure what to play next time. Right now I’m leaning toward Shearer’s WGU Shaman deck, because that looks like fun. That’s actually why I picked up a Venser. I love the idea of Gideon-Sunblast Angel-Venser, even if that combo comes from the sideboard and even if it’s not really all that great, it just seems fun.

Scars of Mirrodin Game Day Report, 2010/10/30

So, it appears that Standard is completely wide open right now with no single dominant deck. I think that’s fantastic! It does make it hard to decide what to play. I didn’t actually think I’d be able to go to Game Day so I hadn’t been thinking too hard about this problem and I had almost no time to put things together, so what I ended up playing was essentially what I happened to have already thrown together. I had a Valakut deck together, a UGR Fauna Shaman/Vengevine/Titan deck together, and a Mono-Black Control deck together. I figured there’d be the least hate around for mono Black, and I haven’t played much control of late, so I went with that. Here’s the list:

Creatures
4 Gatekeeper of Malakir
2 Wumcoil Engine
2 Grave Titan

Planeswalkers
2 Liliana Vess
1 Sorin Markov

Other spells
3 Everflowing Chalice
3 Ratchet Bomb
4 Doom Blade
2 Grasp of Darkness
4 Sign in Blood
2 Mimic Vat
2 Consuming Vapors
2 Mind Sludge
2 Corrupt

Land
22 Swamp
3 Tectonic Edge

Sideboard
1 Ratchet Bomb
2 Vampire Hexmage
1 Consume the Meek
2 Memoricide
2 Mind Sludge
2 Bloodwitch of Malakir
4 Sadistic Sacrament
1 Marsh Casualties

This is obviously based on Philip Green’s Monoblack Control from the Nashville Star City Open. I made a couple pretty minor changes, dropping one Grave Titan and putting in a pair of Wurmcoil Engines and going down to only two Consuming Vapors. It’s pretty much “kill everything and then drop fatties.” One of my favorite things with this deck is that you are pretty much guaranteed to actually go ultimate with Lilliana at least once during the day.

Turnout at Montag’s wasn’t all that great, so we only played four rounds of Swiss and cut to top 4.

Round 1: Cory, playing Esper Allies
Game 1 he never really developed any board presence. I beat him down with a Gatekeeper and a collection of his own dead guys from the Mimic Vat and then when it was pretty much academic I beat him down with a Wurmcoil. Game 2 he definitely made a game out of it. He started with a turn 1 Hada Freeblade and just kept dropping guys and I wasn’t quite keeping up on the removal front, so he beat me down to 9. I managed to Corrupt a 5/5 Nimana Sell-Sword to stabilize both my life total and the board position, and then I got down another Wurmcoil and then managed to keep his board clear and beat him up with it.
1-0 matches, 2-0 games

Round 2: Melissa, playing B/r discard
The deck was interesting, Slavering Nulls and some burn for removal/finisher, then the full Lilliana suite including both Spectres and Caresses, as well as Mind Rots and Doom Blades. Game 1 I opened with a turn 5 Grave Titan off a pair of Chalices, and she never had any answer for the big fattie and his zombie minions. Game 2 was a much more drawn-out affair because not only did I get a slow start, but she got a turn 5 Painful Quandary and that was pretty annoying. However, I was able to work around it. I had her dead Slavering Nulls in the Vat and got Liliana down. She did Bolt Lilliana once, but I was able to go ultimate and then pop the Ratchet Bomb for 5 to kill the Quandary. Then I rushed her. She actually killed many of the things out of the graveyard with a Pyroclasm, but not the Wurmcoil that I had thrown away to her last Mind Rot, which was after I was pretty sure I’d be able to get Lilliana to go ultimate. Oh, and I should note that in both games the lethal final two points of damage were done via Sign in Blood.
2-0 matches, 4-0 games

Round 3: Jeff, playing Pyromancer’s Ascension
This is a horrific matchup for my deck. Game 1 was just a festival of dead removal cards. I did not get a fast enough start, and he got two active Ascensions and Bolted me into the earth. Game 2 I sided in 11 cards: both Memoricides, the Sacraments, the extra Mind Sludges, and the 4th Ratchet Bomb. This game took forever, with neither of us able to do much. He had permission, but I managed an early Ratchet Bomb and then had another one for his Jace, and then a third for another Ascension. However, I then proceeded to draw nothing but land. I drew a total of 13 Swamps and 2 Edges, and not much from my sideboard or in the way of significant threats. I had him in top-deck mode (both of us were) from a good Sludge, but no help from my deck. My last draw was a Swamp, of course, and underneath that was a Corrupt that would have hit for 12 (yes, I had 12 Swamps on the board) and almost certainly would have been game because he was nearly out of burn spells. Grr.
2-1 matches, 4-2 games

Round 4: Parker, playing mono-green infect
Small, fast Infect dudes, some Arbor Elves for acceleration, and lots of pump spells. It’s actually pretty decent, and a really cheap deck. However, Game 1 I opened with two Doom Blades, a Grasp, a Ratchet Bomb, and a pair of Swamps. Pretty good. He got several good swings in with little guys—i let them through and held on to the instant-speed removal in case of pump spells, and stabilized at something like six poison counters before dropping a Grave Titan, to which he scooped. Game 2 was more of the same. I opened with a Doom Blade and two Ratchet Bombs, some land, and a Wurmcoil. He actually got me up to nine poison counters but I blew up one Bomb set to 2 to kill two small Infect guys, and then another Bomb for 1 to kill a pair of Elves. I also got off a Sludge so he was in topdeck mode. Soon after I got a Coil out and an active Vat, and that was it.
3-1 matches, 6-2 games

Semifinals: Joe, playing UB control
I’ve lost to Joe in the semis of two recent FNM SOM drafts, so this all seemed eerily familiar. I knew what he was playing going in and I knew it was going to be a tough matchup for me. Sure enough, he pretty much wrecked me. I made one “duh” play error (he tapped out to cast a Frost Titan as his only creature on turn 6 of game 1, and I used a Doom Blade as a sorcery to kill it when I had not one, but two Gatekeepers in my hand… d’oh) but I think that was the only real mistake. I liked his build a lot. i knew he was playing Mimic Vat and Frost Titan and Wurmcoil Engine, but I did not realize he was playing two main deck Negates until Lilliana ate one of them game 1. Things did not improve from there. The worst problems with mono black are, of course, artifact/enchantment removal, and planeswalkers. Ratchet Bomb is an answer, but a slow one.
3-2 matches, 6-4 games

So, it was feast or famine with MBC, win 2-0 or lose 0-2. I don’t think I’ll play it again, but if I were going to do so, I would definitely dump Sorin for something else. Going down to 2 Consuming Vapors was definitely the right thing to do, as they really weren’t all that good. It’s an OK deck overall, but nothing special. It’s great against creature-heavy decks, but less so against anything else.

Now I have to figure out what to play at FNM on Friday, since we’re done drafting Scars and now we get a month of Standard, yay!

Black and Creature Keywords

Recently, Mark Rosewater responded to one of Aaron Forsythe’s “random card comment of the day” entries, and in his response, included this phrase that just seemed really wrong to me: “Black is very restricted in creature keywords.”

Hunh?

My perception is that black is the favorite child for creature keywords. Seems to me like black gets pretty much everything, not the other way around.

We’ll look only at cards that are Standard-legal, or were just a couple weeks ago. Let’s walk through keywords and just throw out a few examples for each:

Deathtouch: Giant Scorpion, Grave Titan, Nirkana Cutthroat, Painsmith
Lifelink: Child of Night, Escaped Null, Vampire Nighthawk
Haste: Blackcleave Goblin, Bloodghast (conditional), Crypt Ripper, Extractor Demon
First Strike: Black Knight, Nirkana Cutthroat, Vampire Hexmage
Flying: Gloomhunter, Cadaver Imp, Howling Banshee
Trample: Abyssal Persecutor, Thought Gorger, Demon of Death’s Gate
Regenerate: Null Champion, Skeletal Wurm, Skithiryx
Shroud: Hey, look, a miss!
Vigilance: OK, another miss.
Intimidate: Surrakar Marauder, Guul Draz Vampire, Geth

Now, yes, Trample only appears at high rarity, First Strike appears only at uncommon, and Regenerate doesn’t appear at common, either, but most colors don’t get regenerate at all, so that’s not much of a limitation.

Oh, and I refuse to count Reach, at least for any color which get actual, you know, FLYING.

So, the only keywords that appear to be off-limits (so far) to black are Shroud and Vigilance. Compare this to white, which has “none” for Deathtouch, Regenerate, Intimidate, and Haste. White has only a single mythic rare for Trample (Mirror-Sigil Sergeant; almost totally unplayable; I had never even heard of this card before it came up in the search), and very little with Shroud in mono-white. though there are some gold cards with white that have shroud, all of those are because it shares color with blue or green. White has effectively six blank keywords while Black has only two.

Oh, and of course Black is one of the two colors that got Infest, which I didn’t count because it’s new and block-specific. Infect is certainly flavor-consistent, but not exactly a limitation for Black.

So, uhh, how is Black “very restricted” in creature keywords, again?

Scars of Mirrodin Prerelease Report 9/26/2010

This was probably the most expensive prerelease ever, since my wife was out of town and I had to pay for a sitter to be able to go. I had to miss the last Standard FNM on Friday and couldn’t go to a Saturday prerelease, plus I’ll be on the road the next couple weekends so I won’t get to play at all for a bit. So that means I’d miss the first two weeks of drafts, too, and I really wanted to get a chance to play with the new set, so I decided it was worth it. I did have some concerns about the fact that I would be missing the Texans’ game against the Cowboys, but it turned out, unfortunately, that I was glad I had to miss that game (ugh). So, I went the Sunday prerelease at my local shop, Montag’s Games.

Here are the contents of the six packs that I received:

White
2 Seize the Initiative
1 Salvage Scout
1 Whitesun’s Passage
1 Abuna Acolyte
1 Myrsmith
1 Auriok Sunchaser
2 Fulgent Distraction
1 Arrest
1 Dispense Justice
2 Kemba’s Skyguard
1 Glimmerpoint Stag
1 Ghalma’s Warden
1 Vigil for the Lost

Blue
1 Turn Aside
2 Disperse
1 Thrummingbird
1 Trinket Mage
1 Neurok Invisimancer
2 Bonds of Quicksilver
1 Sky-El School

Black
1 Tainted Strike
2 Psychic Miasma
2 Dross Hopper
2 Plague Stinger
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Contagious Nim
2 Instill Infection
1 Flesh Allergy
1 Skinrender
1 Bleak Coven Vampires
1 Carnifex Demon

Red
2 Goblin Gaveler
1 Oxidda Daredevil
1 Ferrovore
1 Blade-Tribe Berserkers
1 Galvanic Blast
1 Shatter
1 Vulshok Heartstoker
1 Oxidda Scrapmelter
1 Koth of the Hammer

Green
2 Copperhorn Scout
1 Lifesmith
1 Carapace Forager
1 Tangle Archer
1 Bellowing Tanglewurm
1 Untamed Might
1 Genesis Wave

Artifacts
1 Mox Opal
2 Gold Myr
1 Copper Myr
1 Silver Myr
1 Auriok Replica
1 Neurok Replica
2 Soliton
1 Accorder’s Shield
2 Necrogen Censer
2 Chrome Steed
2 Darksteel Sentinel
1 Razorfield Thresher
1 Darksteel Axe
1 Perilous Myr
1 Contagion Clasp
1 Bladed Pinion
1 Iron Myr
1 Myr Galvanizer
1 Myr Propagator
1 Prototype Portal

So, the good news here is that I absolutely came out way ahead on the money cards of Koth and the Mox. Essentially, playing with house money all day, so that was a good thing. Not as nuts as some of the other pools I saw, though, as a guy near me opened Elspeth, Venser, and a Sunblast Angel. Yeah, that’s not too broken.

So, the clear bombs are Koth and the Carnifex Demon, which put me into Black and Red. The only Green card that interested me at all was the Genesis Wave, but otherwise the Green was pretty shallow. Not enough good stuff in Blue, though of course the Trinket Mage and the Thrummingbird are appealing, they didn’t seem enough to put me into Blue.

So the real thing I had to consider was whether or not to play the White. The White removal is good, but most of the threats in white take double white, and I didn’t want to try to run three colors all with double requirements. In retrospect, I might have considered splashing white just for the Myrsmith, Dispense Justice, and Arrest. However, that would compromise Koth, since I also wanted to run a decent amount of mountains with the Hammer.

So, I tinkered with the build throughout the day, generally looked something like this:

9 Swamps
7 Moutains

2 Darksteel Sentinel
1 Darksteel Axe
1 Perilous Myr
1 Contagion Clasp
1 Bladed Pinion
1 Iron Myr
1 Myr Galvanizer
1 Myr Propagator
1 Prototype Portal

1 Galvanic Blast
1 Shatter
1 Vulshok Heartstoker
1 Oxidda Scrapmelter
1 Koth of the Hammer

2 Plague Stinger
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Contagious Nim
2 Instill Infection
1 Flesh Allergy
1 Skinrender
1 Carnifex Demon

Round 1: Johnny, playing WR
I didn’t know Johnny, but a friend of mine did and told me that he’s a good player and to expect a tough match, and it was a very even battle. These games both went long, as we both had pretty even board positions that made it hard to make progress. He got ahead on life in game 1, then I managed to even up the board state with Skinrender, but he put down a Golem Artisan, which became a problem. I dropped my Carnifex Demon and made the Golem smaller, but then he dropped a Steel Hellkite, and the combination of the Artisan and Hellkite meant I couldn’t go anywhere; his bomb was better than mine because of the pump and trample and won out, and from there I mostly drew land. In the second game I managed to get a bit ahead on the back of my pair of ETB hill giants (Skinrender and Scrapmelter), but nothing bigger than that. He dropped the Steel Hellkite again, but this time I had the Grasp in my hand and topdecked the Contagion Clasp, so I hit it with a -1/-1 counter off the Clasp and then Grasped the Hellkite, and he never generated another serious enough threat to stop me from slowly grinding him out with my pair of 3/3s—they ran over a lot of 1/1 and 2/2 chumps along the way. It’s a good thing, too, because I never drew a sixth land. Time was called as we were shuffling up for the third game. He offered to flip for the win, but I thought a draw was recoverable and I hate things like flipping for the win, so we just took the draw.
0-0-1 matches (1-1-0 games)

Round 2: Alan, playing UB
Alan is one of the cool Montag’s regulars who I’ve played many times. We both mulled down to six, he grumbled a little and kept his six. I dropped a turn 2 Plague Stinger, he looked at his one land and passed, I dropped another Plague Stinger, and he scooped. He kept a one-lander with multiple Myr in his hand, but no way to handle early fliers and missing two land drops that early he decided he didn’t have a way to get back in the game on the short clock created by the two flying Infect-ers. Game 2 was an actual game, but it wasn’t a good game for Alan. He’d play something, and I’d answer it. He did manage to get a Bonds of Quicksilver on a Plague Stinger, but I Shattered something, and Instilled infections on a couple of his smaller guys, then blew up something of his with the Scrapmelter, and Grasped a Skithrix after it hit me once. He was getting frustrated, but I had accumulated a few poison counters (courtesy of a the Skithrix and a Blackcleave Goblin before I Instilled it) and he did have a Clasp out so I was on a clock. He grabbed my Scrapmelter with the Volition Reins because he really needed a chump blocker, but I killed it with the Skinrender and carried the day.
1-0-1 (3-1-0)

Round 3: Dustin, playing WB
Another Montag’s regular and a cool guy. I hadn’t even drawn Koth the first two matches, much less played him. Well, this match was all about Koth, who I got early in both games, and went ultimate with in both games, but didn’t kill Koth to go ultimate, meaning I could ping, then use Koth to untap, and either ping again or swing for 4. These were both pretty one-sided beatings, though that was also in part because I was able to keep him off many creatures, as he had some hot equipment, including a Nim Deathmantle and Argentum Armor. Game 2 we both drew a lot of land, but when I finally got Koth, a lot of land was not a bad thing to have.
2-0-1 (5-1-0)

Round 4: Name?, playing UW
I’m really sorry about not having the name here, as I can’t even read the writing in my own notes. He’d been at Montag’s before, I’m pretty sure, but I hadn’t played him before. Well, this was a great match. He won the first game by just having too many threats for me to handle all of them, including a Mimic Vat, a Steel Hellkite, and a Scrapdriver Serpent. Yow. I actually had him at like 7 poison counters because of an early Plague Stinger and then a Clasp, but I just couldn’t stop the onslaught. Game 2 was sort of like my game 2 in the second round: he put stuff out, and I blew it up. Both Instills, both 3/3 ETB killers, so I was up on cards and up on board position. He did manage to kill off my hill giants, but I had him down to 4, and I managed to use the Myr Propagator to make a copy, and that got me to metalcraft and I could burn him out with the Galvanic Blast. Game 3 was a tight game. I got two early Plague Stingers but he got a Skyguard. I gave up a Stinger to put a counter on the Skyguard, then put Bladed Pinion on the other Stinger to clear the path for the Stinger. However, he cast a Scrapdriver Serpent when I had Koth at 5 counters. What to do? Well, I had a Scrapmelter in my hand, and I did something maybe a little odd: I cast it and blew up my own Bladed Pinions so that I could block the Serpent. I plussed Koth up again and then went ultimate and pinged off the Skyguard. I had him at seven life and many poison counters so he had to block when I swung in with a mountain and then pinged the Serpent, and he couldn’t topdeck anything and that was game. Great match!
3-0-1 (7-2-0)

Given that record, I needed to win only one more and then I would be in. I was feeling good, though getting hungry and thirsty, but I still hadn’t lost, so how hard could it be?

Round 5: Kris, playing WR
Kris is a Montag’s regular. He beat me the first time we ever played, then I went on to win many matches against him—all in constructed—but he beat me in the Rise prerelase in the first round and then dropped, and I missed the top 8 there only on tiebreakers. (We didn’t play enough rounds to sort out all the X-1s.) Game 1 he just came out on fire, clogging up the board with a slew of 2 drops and 3 drops, including an Embersmith. I did manage to Instill the Embersmith, but I was kind of on my heels, though I got out a couple flyers and was putting on some poison pressure when BLAM he cast a Sunblast Angel, killing two of my guys and generating a board presence I could not handle. Game 2 he again got the Embersmith and some other 2-power guy, and I nuked the Embersmith with Skinrender and then blew up a bunch of stuff with Carnifex Demon. The Demon carried the game with no problem. Game 3 sucked. I took a no-Swamp draw since I had two Mountains, three artifacts, two red cards, and two black cards with only one black in the casting cost, plus I was on the draw. Didn’t seem unreasonable, though I did think about shipping it back. Well, my next six draws were black card, Mountain, then four more black cards. Thanks a whole hell of a lot, deck. Awful. Horrible way to lose. Karmic payback for game 1 in round 2, I guess.
3-1-1 (8-4-0)

Round 6: Carlos, playing WRg
Carlos is another Montag’s regular and is good buddies with Kris, and they always ID when they get paired, which is how I ended up playing both of them since I had a draw as well. Basically, this was for a spot in the top 8. Pretty much everyone else drew, so we had an audience. I got an early Plague Stinger again and then a Contagious Nim but Carlos had Elspeth and cast her on turn 5 or 6. I blew up one of his artifact blockers with my Scrapmelter and was able to swing through the next turn and take out Elspeth and all his tokens, though it cost me the Scrapmelter and the Nim. We clogged up the board with guys—I managed both the Myr Galvanizer and Myr Propagator, but the 3 cost to make a new guy was too much as I was a little light on land. I finally drew some more, but he had a Darksteel Sentinel and then, ugh, a Strata Scythe with four Mountains in play. I took a big whack from that but then managed a Sentinel of my own. I was still poking him with the Plague Stinger and he was in danger of poison death. Unfortunately, he drew a Golem Artisan, which was ugly for me, as he could make his Sentinel fly over mine, and of course his was huge. I couldn’t take another hit from that and live. So, instead, I hit him with my Plague Stinger to get him to nine counters, then Instilled his Sentinel for the card, hoping to topdeck a Clasp so I could poison him out with propagate. Instead I got a Mountain. Bummer. Game 2 I had a Darksteel Axe and a Plague Stinger in my opener, as well as a Sentinal, so I kept. I of course equipped the Stinger on turn 3 and swung, but next turn he was able to kill it, though I don’t remember how. We had a couple turns of both of us going land, go. I hit six land, he did nothing, so at the end of his turn I put out a Sentinel. My next draw was another Sentinal so next turn I didn’t equip the Axe and hit him for three, then at the end of his next turn cast the second one, and he couldn’t handle that, particularly when one had the Axe. On to game 3, the deciding game of the entire day. I opened with two Swamps, an Iron Myr, a Myr Propagator, and a bunch of black cards including the Carnifex Demon. Unfortunately, I got kind of stuck on land—again—and made a blunder. On my turn 4, he had two guys out, including an Etched Champion and another artifact. I had both a Scrapmelter and a Skinrender, and I didn’t want him to get to metalcraft with that on the board, so I killed it… with the Skinrender. Unfortunately, a couple turns later (his turn 6) he cast a Hoard-Smelter Dragon. Ugh. Had I used the Scrapmelter instead, I would have been able to contain the Dragon for longer by cutting it down to a 2/2 and then maybe getting a smaller flier of my own or a Galvanic Blast. I drew Koth, but it turns out Koth isn’t very good when you’re behind and facing down a 5/5, because swinging for 4 wouldn’t help, what I needed was something that would impact the board, and I only had one Mountain in play. I needed one more land to cast the Demon, which could hang with the Dragon, but I didn’t get it, and then when he came across with the Dragon he first blew up my Iron Myr, and I just never made it up to six mana sources and couldn’t stop the Dragon.
3-2-1 (9-6-0)

Very disappointing. I really felt like I should have made it to the top 8 given the deck I had and that I only needed one win in the last two rounds and couldn’t manage that. I don’t think I made any really egregious misplays. I guess I should have mulliganed my hand in game 3 of round 5, and/or used the Scrapmelter instead of the Skinrender in the last game of the last round.

In retrospect, I probably would cut the Myr Propagator. 3 is just too much mana to pay for a 1/1, even if that 1/1 can make another 1/1, but it’s a slow way to do it since at best you can do it once a turn. Producing the tokens doesn’t even trigger things like the smiths (Myrsmith, Embersmith) because they trigger on casting an artifact spell, not an artifact ETB. I was almost never happy to see it.

Now, some musings on the set as a whole. Maybe this isn’t true for draft, but for sealed this set feels slow, or at least sometimes slow. Every single round we had multiple pairs who went to time, and some of them took a long time for the extra turns because of very complicated board states. It took us a very long time to get through six rounds because we were always waiting for someone. I went close to time in all of the matches that went three games except for round 5, and of course in round 1 we didn’t even start game 3. I will note that this wasn’t a problem at the Rise prerelease, and Rise was supposed to be slow. Maybe draft will be better; I certainly hope so.

I’m not so sure about Infect or Metalcraft for limited. You really need to be able to run a lot of artifacts to make Metalcraft work, and while there are a lot of artifacts in the set, I’m not sure how reliably one will be able to put together a deck that can consistently achieve Metalcraft. As for Infect, so far I’m not all that impressed. Maybe I found it underwhelming because I didn’t have enough of it. I see the value of Wither as damage for creatures, but most of the time I would have been just as happy to deal real damage to players rather than poison counters. Again, perhaps in draft it’ll be better as one could probably force a decent BG deck, though I think Black is going to be popular as a draft color because both Skinrender and Grasp of Darkness are awesome, and Instill Infection is pretty good since there are a lot of x/1 targets in the set.

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:

White
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

Blue
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

Black
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

Red
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

Green
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:

Creatures
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
        
Land
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
        
Sideboard
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:

Creatures
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

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

Other spells
1 Finest Hour
2 Eldrazi Conscription
        
Land
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
        
Sideboard
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.

FNM Report, 6/25/2010

So, I’ve been remiss and haven’t done a report for the last two FNM events. Two weeks ago, (6/12) I had spent most of the day in airports and airplanes, was way too tired, and threw together Next Level Bant literally right before heading over to the store and played it for the first time at FNM, without so much as a test game beforehand. NL Bant is a little more skill-intensive than Mythic and I really didn’t have a good sense of it, misplayed horribly at every opportunity, and went 0-3, drop. Moral of the story, something I already knew but didn’t act on: do not play a deck you don’t know at all. I know Pro players always like to regale us with tales of picking up a deck the night before and still winning, but you have to remember, for every one of those you read, there are countless others who do that and don’t write a report because it was a disaster. While maybe it works every once in a while, it’s not a good strategy in general.

So, last week (6/19), I played Mythic Conscription again. I won round 1 vs. Alan playing Eldrazi Elves 1-0-1. We timed out in the second game because I couldn’t draw a Sovereigns and he couldn’t ramp because I had Linvala out. I had a Baneslayer so I had much life but he had a Monument so nobody was getting anywhere. Round 2 was against Doug playing Jund, which I won 2-1. I actually lost game 1, which should not happen often, but managed to pull out the second game because he kept a bad hand and I got an early Baneslayer. Game 3 was a more drawn-out game that I won on the back of a timely Emerge Unscathed. I lost round 3 to Matt, playing his usual Vengevine Naya because I could not draw a Sovereign to save my life and then punted the last game because I did the math wrong. I probably could have drawn in because all of my opponents ended up making the top 8 but John and I played for it in round 4, him playing RDW. I won the first game, in part because he was a little land-flooded. I lost the second as the only thing he had on the board was a Kargan Dragonlord, but it was leveled up some. I only had one blue-producing land and couldn’t cast Jace to bounce it, so I played a Noble Hierarch. Unfortunately he had burn for the Hierarch, so no double-blue for me, and death by Dragonlord. I lost the third game to a Manabarbs and another leveled-up Dragonlord. 2-2 for matches, all my opponents made the top 8. Ugh.

So, in my grand tradition of not playing the same deck two weeks in a row, I had to find something different. I wasn’t going to go back to Next Level Bant because that had been a disaster. I did have a little time on Thursday to test out the Junk deck I proposed, but that deck isn’t quite there. It can indeed generate some really explosive starts, but when it doesn’t, it wasn’t very good, at least against Super Friends. (Testing showed clearly that Student of Warfare/Scute Mob is better in the long run than Steppe Lynx, though). So, with that not being a viable option, it occurred to me that I had never played an actual control deck at FNM, so I decided to go with Super Friends. Here’s my build:

Creatures
4 Wall of Omens
        
Other spells
2 Everflowing Chalice
3 Path to Exile
4 Spreading Seas
1 Deprive
3 Oblivion Ring
2 Mind Spring
3 Day of Judgment
2 Martial Coup

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

Land
4 Island
2 Mountain
4 Plains
2 Arid Mesa
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Glacial Fortress
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Tectonic Edge
60        
        
Sideboard
2 Pyroclasm
3 Negate
3 Kor Firewalker
3 Baneslayer Angel
2 Sphinx of Jwar Isle
2 Wall of Denial

The metagame at Montag’s lately has been some Mythic, a fair amount of Naya, a little Super Friends or UW control, a bunch of Jund, and John playing RDW. I’m the only person I’ve seen attempting Next Level Bant, and I don’t think my outing convinced anyone else to play it.

Round 1: Andrew playing Grixis
Andrew is not a regular but I think I might have played him once before. Game 1 I kept an opener with a bunch of land and a Day of Judgment, a Wall of Omens, and a Path, which is usually pretty good. However, he opened with an Island and then a Drowned Catacombs and that immediately told me I had kept the wrong hand. He ran out a Bloodwitch and Negate’d my Day. I managed an Elspeth but the Bloodwitch made short work of her and a Mind Shatter for four killed my hand, and then a few turns later he got off a Cruel Ultimatum; I never really recovered. Game 2 was all me; I had an answer to everything he threw out there and had multiple ‘walkers early and it was done. Game 3 was really drawn out, back-and-forth kind of affair. He managed a Cruel again when I had exactly three cards in hand, but I managed to recover and got out a Gideon and something else. He conceded when he was at eight and I had Gideon active along with something else. He actually had me, as I was at 8 and he had a Bloodwitch I couldn’t block or Path on the board and was holding two Bolts. Apparently, he was thinking about the Bolts as a way to control Gideon, but Gideon was at 8 so that wouldn’t work. Either way, I got the win in our 5 turns after time was called phase, whew.
1-0 matches, 2-1 games

Round 2: Carols playing Boss Naya
Carlos was playing “old school” Boss Naya with no Vengevines or main deck Baneslayers; something very close to LSV’s PT San Diego list, though oddly with no Bolts. Game 1 was all me: Day on turn 4, Elspeth on 5, Gideon on 6; quick beatings. Game 2 I don’t really remember other than him getting a Sledge active and me not drawing enough Day/removal. Game 3 was decided mostly by him dropping a Pithing Needle and correctly naming the Gideon in my hand, which would have been a huge problem for him. Turns out he saw it when I cracked a fetch or something like that. Ugh, gotta remember to take better care of my hand. The real lock was the Manabarbs from his sideboard that I didn’t have a Negate for and didn’t draw an O Ring for until it was far too late.
1-1 matches, 3-3 games

Round 3: Nick playing RDW
This was an odd RDW deck in that he ran Howling Mine in the main and things like Brood Birthing. However, he also had the amazing turn 1 Goblin Guide start. That Guide gave me multiple lands so when I finally neutralized it (with a Wall of Omens) I never missed a land drop. I eventually won by going ultimate with Jace… with two Howling Mines in play. Game 2 he got another turn 1 Guide but I again produced a Wall of Omens in short order and an Elspeth. He did eventually burn out the Elspeth and the Wall, but I ran Day to clear the board and finished him off with a Gideon.
2-1 matches, 5-3 games

Round 4: Dustin playing Vampires
Dustin is a Montag’s regular and a really nice guy, always an enjoyable match. Unfortunately, the first two games were both decided by mana issues. In Game 1, he mulligan’d once into a 1-lander, but kept it because he had a lot of two-drops. Unfortunately, my turn 2 play was a Spreading Seas and he didn’t draw a Swamp for a couple turns and was just too far behind to keep up. Game 2 I missed my turn 4 land drop (even after a Wall of Omens), though I did have a Chalice in play, I didn’t have two white sources so I couldn’t Day and he got a Nocturnus. I drew… a Colonnade. Yes, sure, a source of white, but not soon enough and I died to the flying vamp army. I joked that the third game we’d finally have a real game where both of us got to do stuff, and he replied that no, we’d probably both just draw tons of land. I said I liked my odds in a game that involved mostly land. We did, in fact, draw mostly land for a while. I thought I had him when I had both an Ajani and a Jace in play, but he hit me with All Is Dust. Yikes. He dropped a few dudes and I drew into a Martial Coup, which I cast for 9 tokens. He cleared with another All Is Dust. I put out a Chalice for 4, he dropped a couple dudes. I did a Mind Spring for 4 or 5 and had enough mana open to cast the Day I drew off of it. He put out something and then I drew the second Martial Coup and cast it for 12 tokens. They swung once, he dropped a Bloodwitch, my tokens came in again and I ran out Elspeth, and that was it.
3-1 matches, 7-4 games

Round 5: ID
Someone told me he was playing Turbofog, and that sounded to me like a draw on time anyway. I did the math and realized we could draw in anyway, so we did. Turns out he wasn’t playing Turbofog, it was Vampires (really? Two people playing Vamps? WTF?).
3-1-1 matches

Quarterfinals: Carlos playing Boss Naya
Generally speaking, I don’t like playing the same guy in the top 8 as I do in the Swiss because, hey, there are other people around! But the pairings gave me Carlos again, and so we shuffled up. Game 1 was a lot like our Game 1 in the Swiss: Day on Turn 4, then ‘walkers took command. I got Ajani out and managed to keep him off double white for the Baneslayer he had in hand and managed to Helix a couple times to offset some of the small pokes I had taken, then I got Gideon and Elspeth together and made short work of it. Game 2 was a horrible game, I drew a Day which I ran on turn 4, and an Ajani which I drew on like turn 7 or 8, and then literally nothing but land.
Game 3 he again got a pretty fast start but I got a three- or four-for-one with a Day on turn 5, but of course he had a Ranger to recover. He got Manabarbs down, but this time I had an O Ring in hand. He Needle’d for Gideon again but this time I had no Gideon. He kept throwing out dudes and beating me down, but again I managed a Day. Unfortunately, he still had a Sledge on the table. He drew a Hierarch and another Needle, naming Colonnade (of which I had two or three on the table) I got out a Sphinx, but the Hierarch was Sledged so I couldn’t really make any progress. I did a Mind Spring for 4 or 5 but he got another Manabarbs, unfortunately, and dropped another dude so I had to swing with the Sphinx to drop him to 25 (damn Sledge) and then cast Martial Coup making six tokens. This unfortunately put me at 5 life, but the board was clear and he had no cards in hand. I went to 3 to Negate something (I can’t remember what) and swung with all the tokens, putting him at 6, meaning I had him dead next turn. I had mana open for a Negate and the life to use it, but I was dead to exactly one card: Bloodbraid. I knew he had only two left, so I figured my odds were good, and I did not go to 1 life to cast the Wall of Omens in my hand because I knew that was the only way he had me and I knew the odds were not good; he had about 35 cards left in his library and that’s about a 6% chance of drawing a Bloodbraid. He, of course, topdecked a Bloodbraid and hit me for exactly 3… ugh. Of all the rotten luck. I guess I should have risked it and cast the Wall, but being at 1 life didn’t seem like a good plan, though in retrospect I’m not sure why not, since I knew he wasn’t running Bolts.
3-2-1 matches, 8-6 games

Not a great day, but I got a couple packs for my trouble, though they didn’t have anything worthwhile in them. I stayed to watch the top 4. Joe, also playing Super Friends, got Carlos in the next round and of course managed to not get topdecked into the earth, though it did go three games. The finals was John and his RDW against Joe, which Joe won fairly handily; game 2 he managed two early Wall of Omens along with two Firewalkers, and John just couldn’t overcome that. Joe got $60 in store credit but didn’t really want it, so he sold me his credit for $30 and I picked up some singles and some deck boxes (red and a black mana symbol boxes to complete my set). So, overall, not that a bad night, really.

I’ll be traveling again the coming week and so will have zero time—actually, less, since I’ll be traveling with the kids—time to brew and/or test, so I’m almost certainly going back to Mythic next week. Only two more weeks of Standard before we go to M11 draft. Looks like M11 will have something serious to say about the format even before Shards and M10 rotate out!