Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Road to Level 2 .. .and .. more Elephants

Hi everybody!

So, I ticked off another requirement on my Level 2 Judge checklist: head-judge'd a Competitive event. It was the Legacy 1K at Mox Mania this weekend. Turnout was a little less than we would have liked, but considering the weather's been crappy and that seems to be finals time right now, 29 players isn't that bad.

I originally thought I was going to have my L2 mentor as one of my Judglings, but we had a miscommunication/misunderstanding, and he wasn't able to make it, so I had two relatively new L1's judgling-ing under me. I think that was actually better experience for me, getting to (and having to!) babysit them more. Thankfully, though, one of them has judged other Competitive events, and was able to demonstrate deck checking to the other one.

So yeah, the whole thing was lots of work. I underestimated the complexity of running the logistics of the whole thing: entering in results, generating pairings, posting pairings, printing match slips, starting the clock, cutting match slips, handing out match slips, swooping for deck check, etc. It was kinda hard work, but very rewarding. Great experience for by myself, and for my Judglings. A++, would head judge again. :)

Next step ... Meet with my L2 mentor, then probably contact an L3, and then take my test. Woo!

On the playing side of things, I'm still having fun with my Elephants deck. I made one minor tweak .. I swapped out the Lightning Strikes for two Selesnya Charms and a Warleader's Helix. I'm not sure that was the right call, however. Here's how it went:

Uncounterable elephant.
Round 1: vs. U/W Control. Game one didn't go that great. I beat up on him for a few turns, he wrath'd once or twice, then stabilized with Elspeth, and locked the game up with a Sphinx's Revelation. Textbook. Game two, I sided into the ham-fisted Control Hate configuration of my deck, with Mistcutters, Assembles, Boros Charms, and The Hammah. From there, the rest of the match just plays itself. One hard-to-deal-with Elephant after another. I won both subsequent games, I think both times with multiple threats still in hand ("I still had all these!"). Win, 2-1. Record: 1-0.

Round 2: vs. Mono-Red Devotion. Same opponent as last week or a couple weeks ago. Again, he didn't get the greatest of draws, but he drew well enough to get one game. I don't remember much about this match, other than lots of burn and Boros Reckoners being tossed around. Win, 2-1. Record: 2-0.

Not an elephant.
Round 3: vs. RDW. This one didn't quite go as well. Game one, he put Mad Skillz on a Reckoner, and I had to dome myself for 4 to kill it. From there, he just had to patiently draw into his remaining burn spells. Second game, his turns were: (1) Cackler, (2) Zealot, (3) [something .. I forget], (4) Burning-Tree, Burning-Tree, Fanatic of Mogis. GG. I guess. :/ Loss, 0-2. Record: 2-1.

Flying elephant!
Round 4: vs. Junk Reanimator brew. I appreciate this guy's brewing spirit, but it seemed like his deck was trying to do too much. He was playing four colors, splashing red mostly for Sire of Insanity. Game 1 went pretty quickly, with me overwhelming him pretty early with Elephants, and punishing his "all-in" play on Lotleth Troll with a Chained to the Rocks. Game two, he had the turn three Whip of Erebos, but I had the Wear // Tear to put the kibosh on that. I quickly followed up with Elephantile beatdowns and soon victory was mine. Win, 2-0. Record: 3-1.

Well all that was good enough for second place! The RDW opponent ended up winning out, and all of my previous opponents did pretty well, so my tiebreakers were pretty good. It was enough for about $13 in store credit, so minus the $10 entry fee, I made $3 on the night. Woo!

Thoughts on the deck:
  • I should probably shore up the red aggro matchup. Voices and Reckoners aren't quite cutting it. Selesnya Charm is cute, but I think I really need more removal. I think I should just put in that fourth Mortars, and maybe some lifegain. Hmmm .. Fiendslayer Paladin? Unflinching Courage? That could be pretty sweet on a Polukranos or Reckoner. But I need some early burn, too. Maybe I just side out all the mana dorks and bring in Anger of the Gods? But I do like my Caryatids...
  • The Control matchup seems just fine. I can probably cut back on some of the sideboard hate. Probably the Boros Charms. Or maybe bring some of that into the maindeck? It's hard, though, because both my Control and Aggro matchups seem pretty bad for game 1, and I don't know how to shore up one without borking the other.
  • Deck is still lots of fun, and still has room for improvement. Which is both good and bad. I like the deck, and it's doing well, but I kinda wanted to try out Mono-Blue at some point. Plus, I just love saying "Elephant".
This weekend is gonna be an inaugural/test run of Pauper Constructed, which I'm looking forward to. I'm building my mono-blue Delver deck in paper, and it think it'll be pretty fun. Lots of Mox regulars have been expressing interest, so I figure we can try to start it up again after the holidays. I'd love to see it take off. But if not, I'll have fun trying. :)

Okay, well that's it for now. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Elephants and Such


Lots of stuff to talk about this week, so I'll just dive right in.

Flying Elephant!
Standard! Elephants! Stomp! I didn't really tweak much. I think just I just swapped out a Chained to the Rocks for a third Mizzium Mortars. Well, here's a brief rundown of how things went:

1. vs. Green Devotion. He had way too many Kalonia Hydras and I couldn't keep up. I Chained one of them, and he Bramblecrush'd it. Didn't recover from that one. D: Lost 1-2.
2. vs. U/W Controlol. Finally, a Control matchup! I lost game one when he stabilized at about 1-2 life, and my Last Elf Standing couldn't quite finish the job. Thankfully, most of my board was perfect against him, and he didn't really come close to being able to keep up with my never-ending threats. Voices, Hydras, Dragons, Elephants, oh my! Won 2-1.
3. vs. Drown in Filth. He drew terribly. I killed all of his doodz, and then him. Won 2-0.
4. vs. Red Devotion. Quick 3 games, mostly one-sided. Game 1 he couldn't keep up with my Elephants, game 2 I couldn't keep up with his Nykthos, and game 3 he Mortars'd my mana dorks and I was stuck without red mana and died to the Last Minotaur Standing. Lost 1-2.

Some thoughts:
  • Boon Satyr was actually pretty sweet. 4-power flash for 3 mana is a nice ahead-of-the-curve tempo body. I think I'll keep him around.
  • Mana continues to be awkward. I think getting the G/W scrylands would help. Of course, getting the M10/ISD duals would help even more, but .. yeah.
  • I wish I could have more Rocks to chain things to. But damn, that Bramblecrush hurt. Maybe I should try Selesnya Charm. Hmmm ...
  • Chandra did some good work. She helped me get a surplus of cards, ping dorky doodz, and force through damage.
  • Mortars was pretty much always awesome. Solid early, and blowout late. I think I should go up to 4 of these.
  • Boros Reckoner doesn't trade as well with trampling Kalonian Hydras as well as I was hoping. :( I wonder if I should drop to three of him in the 'board.
  • Aurelia was pretty great at finishing games. Interesting little synergy with mana dorks, too. Makes me want to run more instant-speed stuff ... like Selesnya Charm?? Hmmmm....
Geist of Holy-Mackerel-Look-At-All-Those-F-ing-Merfolk
Modern! I love Modern, but my deck has been bombing lately. It's kind of frustrating, really. I don't want to abandon it quite yet, but I feel like I might have to. It seems like the games I lose are one of these scenarios:
  1. I draw a bunch of control game early, but can't follow up with a threat. I run out of gas and die.
  2. I draw a bunch of threats early, and die to early aggression/combo.
So do I go more Control? I don't know if that's what I want to do. But I sorta have to. Geist of Saint Traft on turn three does nothing against a turn-four Living End or Merfolk swarm. Do I concede Game 1 against them and board in a bunch of countermagic? (And speaking of Living End, Grafdigger's Cage doesn't do against them what I thought it would do. Frowning face.) Or maybe I play a grindy controlling game 1, and board into more Midrange stuff for games 2-3? I don't know. There's a big-ish Modern tournament coming up in February up nort' that I'd like to attend, so ... yeah.

What else ... Well, I'm head-judging a Legacy 1K at Mox Mania this weekend! I'm pretty excited about it. It's another step toward Level 2, as well as a great opportunity for me to get some experience head judging stuff. And I get to boss people around, too, which I'm looking forward to. :) I was hoping to maybe test for L2 at SCG Indy coming up in January, but my application got declined for that, so I probably won't even bother traveling to it. Frowning face. Oh well. Soon...

Yes, this was a common.
I'm also organizing a Pauper tournament to run at Mox for the following weekend. There was a tournament up nort', and some on the local MTG Facebook group seemed interested, so we'll give it a shot. :) I'm trying to find the last few pieces to finish putting together Delver. Should be fun. :)

Okay, well that's it for now. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Braving the Elephants

So I gave Domri'z Doodz another spin last night at Mox Mania's Tuesday Standard Win-a-Box thingy. tl;dr ... I went 3-1, losing only in the final round to one of the two 4-0's, and getting 4th place (missing 3rd place on breakers). I'm pretty happy with how it ran, and I had lots of fun with it. Here's what I played (give or take a card or two?):

Land (24):
4 Temple Garden
4 Stomping Ground
4 Sacred Foundry
3 Temple of Abandon
3 Temple of Triumph
4 Forest
2 Mountain

Doodz (25):
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Loxodon Smiter
2 Boon Satyr
3 Polukranos, World-Eater
3 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Aurelia, the Warleader

Removal (7):
2 Chained to the Rocks
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Lightning Strike
1 Magma Jet 

Planeswalkers (4):
3 Domri Rade
1 Chandra, Pyromaster

Sideboard (15):
2 Wear // Tear
3 Mistcutter Hydra
4 Boros Reckoner
1 Hammer of Purphoros
2 Assemble the Legion
3 Boros Charm

... and here's how the matches went:

What's the saying about bringing a Cackler to an Elephant fight?
Round 1: vs. Mono-Red Devotion.
My opponent didn't draw very many of his lands, and I beat him up with elephants and such. Not much of a match here. Win, 2-0. Record: 1-0.

When her devotees are all getting trampled by elephants, all she can do is watch.
Round 2: vs. Mono-Green Devotion.
I was able to keep him off his devotion game with well-timed removal (Lightning Strike, Domri) and consistent elephantile pressure. I'm pretty sure Aurelia made an appearance, too, which was pretty hot. Win, 2-0. Record: 2-0.

Protection from Domri. :(
Round 3: vs. Mono-Blue Devotion.
So much devotion. Again, I don't think my opponent got the greatest draw here. I think he got kinda flooded at least one game, and failed to draw his best threats (early fliers and Thassa). His lonely Bident couldn't quite stave off the elephant beats. I survived a misplay in one game where I could have just monstrous'd my Dragon and killed him. But I thought I'd play out Domri and an Elephant and fight his Master of Waves. Then I realized, Domri's fight ability is red and can't even target the Master. Oops. So I just killed him the next turn. Win, 2-0. Record: 3-0.

Brave the Elephants.
Round 4: vs. Orzhov.
Hey, it's not devotion! At least, I don't think it was. He played lots of Orzhov lands, but I don't remember if I ever saw any black cards. But I didn't see any devotion stuff either (e.g., Heliod, Nykthos). Anyway, the first game I staved off his early doodz with removal. Fighting a Banisher Priest to free my elephant (okay, Hydra) helped a lot. I think Aurelia made another appearance.
Second game, I saw the Superfriends: Gideon and Ajani. Huh. So I was getting ready to set up my game-winning play.. attacking with an elephant, then following up with another elephant and a dragon the next turn. Then I looked at the friends: Gideon was at 11 loyalty, and Ajani at 7. I was dead on board to a doubple-striking/flying Gideon. So I attacked him down to 7 and took 14 the next turn. The next couple of turns were really weird, and I probably misplayed. I was able to dispatch Ajani over the next couple of turns, and attack Gideon down to 1, but then their old friend Elspeth made an appearance to kill all of my elephants. D: I followed up with a dragon, and I chose to kill Elspeth. The next turn, however, he had the Brave the Elephants to sneak his Gideon past my elephant. What I should have done was to kill Gideon (as silly as that sounds), and then I had the Mizzium Mortars in hand to handle Elspeth's flunkies, plus any other followup on his end. Live and learn. Or, die and learn. :/
The third game was much less interesting. I curved out with a couple of early elephants, but he unceremoniously Banish'd them both. I failed to draw into removal to get rid of them, and I was dead shortly thereafter. Loss, 1-2. Record: 3-1.

Hey, it was nice to be back in the X-0 bracket in the final round. :) Though like I mentioned, I didn't have the best breakers, and I fell to fourth place. But I split with my final opponent, so we each got 14 packs for our efforts. Not bad.

So, some thoughts about how the deck played out:

  • The mana continues to be somewhat wonky. I'm not sure what I can do about it. I feel like I want another white source so I can more consistently hit Voice on turn two. Maybe the G/W scryland will help.
  • I think I'm going to relegate Chandra to the 'board. I almost always wanted to side her out, and the one time I cast her, it didn't really matter. I think I'd rather have just more removal.
  • Okay, Stormbreath is good. So many times he sealed the deal as "just" a 4/4 hasty evasive guy. Even against mono-blue, who has lots of fliers, he puts enormous pressure on them. And monstrous'ing is not out of the question.
  • I need to tweak the removal some more. I kept finding myself with Chains stuck in hand without a Mountain to chain anything to. I'll probably go back down to a 1-of. But I'm really nervous about not having an answer for Thassa or Master.
  • Also, I think I want more Mortars. A two-mana 4-damage burn spell is unexciting, but good. A six-mana one-sided wrath is pretty much a blowout. I think I should have 3, or maybe even 4.
  • I probably need to let go of my irrational love of Scry. I love Magma Jet, but I think having that third point of damage is more important than stacking my next two draws.
  • Polukranos. Man, what an elephant. It's a 5/5 on turn 3 or 4, and it picks off annoying little dorks on the other side of the board. Sometimes I wonder if I should go to 4 of these.
  • Domri. Again, what a nice utility card. He draws me into moar doodz, and he uses moar doodz to kill other doodz. I didn't ultimate him last night, but I didn't really care if I did or not. Most of the time he was at least a 2-for-1, drawing me a dood or two, and picking off one of their doodz. Sweet sweet card. Sometimes I wonder if I should go to 4 of him too.
  • Of course, when I'm thinking about adding cards, the question becomes ... what do I cut? This week, I'm looking at Boon Satyr. But really, there's nothing else quite like it. I really like it as a 4-power flash guy, and when I can flash him in at end of turn and follow up with a Dragon, that's pretty sweet. I know I've bestow'd him at instant speed, too, but that doesn't come up all that often.
So yeah, I'm enjoying the deck. It's fun, it's winning, and there's still room for improvement. I think I'll keep doing it. I started sleeving up Mono-Blue Devotion as a backup plan, in case I crashed and/or burned this week, but I think I'll give the Doodz another week or two.

On the Judge front, I'm pretty excited to take the next step towards Level 2: head-judging a Competitive event. Mox Mania is gonna run a Legacy 1K, and I'll HJ that with a couple of other guys doing the dirty work of deck checks and stuff. It's pretty exciting. I get to boss people around, I get to see weird stuff happen in an interesting format, I get to edumacate a new Level 1, I get to keep learning from my Level 2 mentor. And hopefully sooner than later I get to test for Level 2. I am excite. :D I was also told by my mentor that there's been interest in Judge Classes, so hopefully I'll get to run those too. I had a great time running the one a couple months ago. And at some point, I hope I'll get to start working Grand Prixs. Fun stuff. :)

Okay, well that's it for now I guess. Thanks for reading!