Monday, April 20, 2015

Catching Up 3

Hi everybody!

So, it's been a while. Thought I'd do a quick brain dump on what I've been doing lately.


I'm on Doubling Jace lately. It's a deck that Travis Woo wrote about on Channel Fireball a few months ago, before Dig Through Time got banned. The basic combo is Doubling Season + Jace, Architect of Thought. Jace comes down with 8 loyalty. You sac him, get your opponent's best card from his/her deck, and your second Jace. Then get your opponent's second, third, and fourth best cards, and your 3rd and 4th Jaces, and a Time Walk of some sort. That should be enough to form some kind of win condition. Plan B involves Garruk Wildspeaker and probably some Plant tokens.

The trick is actually living long enough to get the combo off. There are a lot of things that have to go right, and most matchups are difficult. Against Burn, it's pretty much an auto-lose if they get Eidolon of the Great Revel out. Against Aggro (which barely even exists right now), Fog and Khalni Garden chumps are critical. Against Combo/Control, they usually have a bunch of counterspells.

But when the deck works, it's glorious. Usually the matchups it works in are the best ones to go off with. My favorites so far have been Mono-Green Devotion (grabbing a piece of meat, a Garruk, an Eternal Witness (getting back Jace!) and a Craterhoof. Kablam! Going off against Allies was pretty sweet too. And using Twin's own combo against them isn't the worst thing in the world.

Right now the deck looks kinda like this:

Lands (22)
4 Misty Rainforest
2 Breeding Pool
1 Forest
3 Island
2 Halimar Depths
4 Simic Growth Chamber
4 Khalni Garden
2 Scalding Tarn

Creatures (1)
1 Snapcaster Mage

Instant (12)
3 Fog
4 Spell Pierce
4 Remand
1 Cryptic Command

Sorcery (14)
4 Explore
1 Gitaxian Probe
3 Savor the Moment
2 Time Warp
4 Serum Visions

Enchantment (3)
3 Doubling Season

Planeswalker (9)
4 Jace, Architect of Thought
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage <3 <3 <3 <3 <3   

Sideboard (15)
1 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
1 Thragtusk
1 Kitchen Finks
2 Feed the Clan
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Mana Leak
1 Spell Snare
2 Nature's Claim
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Fog
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Bow of Nylea
<3 <3 <3
Have I mentioned yet that I freaking LOVE Tamiyo? Pretty sure she's my all-time favorite card in all of Magic. Powerful, fun, beautiful artwork, cool character, great flavor ... Love it. :)

Anyway, moving forward, I really want to find room for Coiling Oracles in there somewhere. That'll probably involve taking out some of the fun-ofs, like Git. Probe (which I'm not in love with anyway--it's kind of a filler card), Cryptic Command, and maybe one of the Savors. Feels miserable though. I dunno.

If I ever decide I want to actually compete, I think I'm gonna go back to Jund. It's got some new toys, and the deck can go in a couple different directions (either little Jund with Bob, or big Jund with Tasigur and other expensive drops).


So broken.
My new pet deck is 5c Superfriends. I love it. It's the perfect combination of ridiculous and competitive that gets my inner Timmy/Johnny/Spike (but mostly Timmy) all fired up. I've got it tuned to something resembling not completely terrible, and it looks kinda like this at the moment:

Lands (25)
3 Wooded Foothills
2 Windswept Heath
1 Bloodstained Mire
2 Forest
1 Island
1 Mountain
1 Swamp
2 Plains
3 Nomad Outpost
3 Frontier Bivouac
3 Sandsteppe Citadel
1 Mana Confluence
1 Temple of Plenty
1 Temple of Mystery

Creatures (12)
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Courser of Kruphix

Spells (10)
2 Roast
3 Arc Lightning
1 Sultai Charm
1 Utter End
1 Explosive Vegetation
2 Muderous Cut

Friends! (12)
2 Xenagos, the Reveler
2 Kiora, the Crashing Wave
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
2 Sarkhan Unbroken
1 Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
2 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
1 Garruk, Apex Predator
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Sideboard (15)
1 Arc Lightning
3 Seismic Rupture
2 Barrage of Boulders
1 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
1 Chandra, Pyromaster
1 Liliana Vess
1 Ajani Steadfast
1 Chromanticore
1 Duneblast
1 Utter End
1 Sultai Charm
1 Thoughtseize

... and I'm forgetting a card in the main. No idea. Oh well.

So, I've been doign pretty well with this pile, which kinda resembles a Standard Singleton deck with all the 1-ofs. But there are reasons for the 1-ofs. I don't ever (EVER) want to draw more than one of the more expensive walkers, except the ones that I feel are important parts of the deck. Elspeth gets me out of rough situations, and Sarkhan Unbroken can both help me stabilize, and pull away if left unchecked. The spells are basically a janky control shell designed to help me survive until Turn 4, then start to take over the game with planeswalkers.

I won FNM, with a record of 3-0-1 (though one of the wins was a bye, and the draw likely would have been a loss), and made it to the Top 8 of Game Day (3-1 in Swiss, lost in the quarters). Here's a breakdown for FNM:

Round 1: Bye. 1-0.

Warrior dorks for dayzzzzzzzzzzz....
Round 2: vs. Mardu Tempo.
Pretty cool deck. Lots of dash guys and burn. One game, I seemingly stabilized at around 10 life, when suddenly: "End of your turn, Lightning Strike, Crackling Doom, untap, upkeep, Lightning Strike, Crackling Doom." "Uh yeah, I'm dead." The other games, he got kinda slow starts, and/or I had enough removal for his sundry critters, and I was able to keep myself out of burn range. 2-0.

Don't Roast me, bro!
Round 3: vs. G/R BEES.
Awkward matchup that I suspect is bad for me. I do okay until he starts making bees. I can deal with random dorks on the ground, even a bunch of random dorks on the ground. I have a hard time with a bunch of dorks in the air. I was able to steal one of the game by curving out into a turn 4 Garruk (T2 Caryatid, T3 morph'd Rattleclaw). Game 3 had to be played pretty quickly, and I made a pretty bad misplay that resulted in the non-win. The board was pretty empty, and he played a Scuttling Doom Engine. I played Sarkhan Dragonspeaker and Murderous Cut'd his Doom Engine ... and he redirected the Doom Engine's damage to the Sarkhan that I had just played. D: Then he played a couple things as time ran out, and we ended up drawing. 2-0-1.

Sultai Charm that. Or Utter End. Or fly over it with Dragon tokens.

Round 4: vs. G/W Devotion.
This was a pretty bad matchup for me in previous weeks, but with added flexible removal in Sultai Charm and Utter End and Duneblast, I felt much more confident. And I was right to be, as I won pretty easily. I was able to keep him off his early game, and stick planeswalkers pretty well unchecked. I kept him off the most egregious morph shenanigans (basically, killing the Whisperwood Elementals ASAP), and let the walkers take over the game. 3-0-1.

And that was good enough for first place. Woo! I was pretty stoked. I know it wasn't the best quality FNM win ever, but I was still glad to experience it. Emboldened by my success, I decided to give Game Day a shot. Here's how that went:

Win condition?
Round 1: vs. U/B Control.
Glad to get this one out of the way. I expected a bad matchup, but I curved out pretty well both games, and he had kinda awkward draws. Rattleclaw Mystics that are left unchecked can get a lot of damage in, it turns out. And even when my Sarkhan got almost immediately killed, he survived long enough to get a Dragon out there to go the distance. 1-0.

Counter target [greedy] Arc Lightning. :(
Round 2: vs. RDW.
Glad to get this one out of the way. I expected kind of a coin flip match, but it turned out that when I get pretty good draws, I can win pretty easily. First game, I had enough removal to keep most of the damage off the board, and I kept myself out of burn range pretty easily. Second game, I stuck a Chromanticore or a Sorin or something, and ran away with it. I did have a scary moment, though, when he countered my Arc Lightning with Atarka's Command. That didn't feel good. But I still recovered and won. I'll take it. 2-0.

Win condition?
Round 3: vs. U/B Control.
Oh, there's another one? Okay, well, that's fine I guess? Turns out that again, all I needed to was stick one planeswalker, and I ran away with it easily. We both made a couple of minor misplays though. I Thoughtseize'd him at one point (suspecting that he might have a counter), and found Ugin, Silumgar's Scorn, and (I think) Dig. I took the Scorn so I could resolve my planeswalker. But then I thought about it bit further, and he could have easily Dug for the last 2-3 lands he needed for Ugin and gone from there. But he didn't do that. He Dug and found a relatively worthless Crux (I think I had a Dragon token and a couple of Satyr tokens at that point) and something else. Either way, though, I won. I'll take it! 3-0.

Loss condition?
Round 4: vs. Abzan Aggro.
Yeah, this one isn't that great for me, I don't think. Turns out maybe a bunch of mid-sized dorks on the ground aren't that easy to deal with. Arc Lightning can kill maybe one of them, but not quite fast enough. We played some "game fun" matches after he beat me 2-0 easily, and it didn't go much better except when he got a very threat-sparse draw. 3-1.

Coulda shoulda woulda. :(
Quarterfinals: vs. RDW.
Rematch from Round 2. Game one, I kept his early aggression well under control, and got to a point where I could stick an Ajani. I looked the top four cards and found: land, land, Courser, Sorin. I was at around 10 life. Not bad, but not great. I took the Courser, intending to hit some lands, gain a few life, and bury him in card advantage. I debated taking the Sorin just to gain some life. A few Stoke the Flames and/or Lightning Strikes later, I was on the play for game two. I made another mistake when I played a Xenagos into his board of just Chandra (but I knew about his two Zurgos in hand from previous Dashes) and left the token back. Then Chandra Falter'd my token and she and Zurgo killed Xenagos. I could have played Sarkhan Dragonspeaker that turn, bashed Chandra, and kept him alive for another turn or two (or Fog'd for a turn). .. Anyway, game two I took card of his early aggression with an on-curve Caryatid and sweeper, and landed Chromanticore on turn four, which ran away with the game very quickly. Game three I kept a very bad hand of three tap-lands, Courser, and expensive cards. He curved out VERY quickly and killed me on turn four.

So .. yeah. This deck definitely has potential. I don't think it's Tier One, but I think it's one of those things that I can get good with and maybe do well at my LGS fairly consistently. Maybe a more experienced pilot/deckbuilder could tweak it a bit and put up some better results. But I'm having a blast with it. I keep finding lots of cute little synergies within the deck--I already knew about Sarkhan DS + Ajani MOH and Xenagos + Elspeth, but Courser + Kiora and/or Sarkhan UB are amazing together. Explosive Vegetation + Courser is silly. Using Garruk AP to kill my own creatures is a something that I've thought about but have yet to act on (and in retrospect, it's always been correct to do so).


Yeah, there's been some of that too! I got my first team lead assignement in Indy a few months ago, running the "not deck checks" team for the Modern PIQ thingy. I think I did pretty good, especially considering I didn't know I was doing that until the day of. I basically got to boss two guys around and try to figure out when to take break. While at the same time dealing with strange ramifications of the imperfect pairing systems (the big one being, the online pairings and paper pairings weren't in sync). This weekend I'm doing another SCG in Cleveland. Maybe I'll get to Team Lead again. Maybe not? Either way, I'm looking forward to it.

There have been several PPTQs as well. There's one just about every weekend within driving distance, and a we L2s have been pretty busy. It's been fun, though, getting to experience different stores, different Magic communities, etc. As well as just plain old grinding judging XP.

I've also had to deal with some interesting challenges related to becoming the de facto Judge Manager at my local store. I enjoy it, but it can be stressful when I have a hard time filling holes in the weekly schedule. Kinda wish I had more bodies. I just lost one of my more dependable L1s, but I just gained a new L1. So hopefully that balances out. Fun!

Welp .. I think that's it for now. Thanks for reading!

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