Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Adventures in Catching Up


Hmmm, maybe with the [in]frequency with which I update this blog, maybe I should retitle it "Catching Up". I dunno!

Anyway, enough about catching up. Time to catch up!


I started typing out a Teal Deer about the end of last Standard season, but it could be pretty succinctly summed up with "I didn't play much, and when I did, I lost a lot." Exciting.

Now we have a brand new set, and a brand new format, and I gotta say, I like it so far. Any format where the best decks are various shades of 3- and 4-color midrange decks, I gotta give it a thumbs up. Mana is amazing right now with the Battle lands and Fetchlands, and ... yeah. So what am I doing with this amazing mana? Something like this:

Lands (25):
3 Opulent Palace
1 Frontier Bivouac
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Yavimaya Coast
2 Forest
2 Swamp
2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Cinder Glade
1 Sunken Hollow
1 Smoldering Marsh
1 Lumbering Falls
8 (some combination of fetchlands)

Creatures (15):
4 Rattleclaw Mystic
4 Fathom Feeder
4 Hangarback Walker
2 Den Protector
1 Silumgar, the Drifting Death

Superfriends! (11):
3 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
2 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
2 Kiora, Master of the Depths
2 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Sarkhan Unbroken

Spells (8):
2 Reave Soul
1 Complete Disregard
1 Sultai Charm
3 Murderous Cut
1 Crux of Fate
1 Dig Through Time

Sideboard (15):
1 Sultai Charm
2 Languish
2 Radiant Flames
2 Negate
1 Duress
1 Transgress the Mind
1 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon
1 Ugin's Insight
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Stratus Dancer
?? (other random stuff I can't remember off the top of my head)

So, as you can guess from all the random 1-ofs, this list is kinda in flux. I'm still trying to figure out what I like and what I don't. The deck feels pretty strong, with some interesting little synergies that don't seem obvious right away. I think it's a few tweaks away from being pretty solid. I went 2-1-1 at Mox's win-a-box last night, losing only to Atarka Red. The draw was against a wonky Collected Company/Aristocrats type deck, and I had him pretty dead (Ugin and Silumgar on board, Crux and Jace in hand).

Some other random thoughts:

  • I was on the fence about Kiora, but she can randomly be really powerful. The ramp and "dig for a dood & a land" modes are pretty obvious, as is the win condition threat on an otherwise empty board (death by tako!). But she also synergizes adorably with Hangarback Walker. And she can be a mana fixer in those very rare cases where I need BB or UU and don't have it.
  • Jace, man. Card is bonkers. Games where I can untap with him in play tend to go much better for me than the inverse. The Merfolk Looter mode helps immensely in smoothing out draws. I don't even mind discarding good cards; I know I'm just gonna flash them back later, or return them to hand with Den Protector, or fuel a Delve.
  • Fathom Feeder is pretty sweet, though. A lot of times it's a Doom Blade, but the Azure Mage mode is pretty cool, too. I hosed someone trying to get some extra value from a Mortuary Mire, too.
  • The manabase definitely needs tweaks. Too many lands come into play tapped, and I need to be able to hit UB, 1U, and 1G on turn two. Some number of Opulent Palaces can probably become Polluted Deltas and/or Wooded Foothills.
  • Sarkhan Unbroken is still awesome. The Dargons he poops out have synergy with Silumgar, too. Neat! Because of this, I might think about putting some more Dargons somewhere in my 75. Maybe Dragonlord Silumgar? Atarka? Kolaghan?
  • I need have a better plan against Atarka Red. I really don't like losing to Aggro these days (really), and I should probably have a better plan against it. Feed the Clan is usually the go-to card, and it's pretty sweet with Jace, but I'm thinking about going deeper. Tomb of the Spirit Dragon is tempting, but I'm expecting that my Hangarback Walkers and Fathom Feeders are gonna be dead more often than not. The other card I'm looking at is Jaddi Offshoot, which is probably just a really bad Courser of Kruphix. I miss my Horse Lady. :( Maybe I could try Liliana? Looking at all the various ways of gaining life in the current Standard, the best answer is probably really to go 5-color so I can play cards like Arashin Cleric and Ojutai's Command (and Siege Rhino, I GUESS).
  • Speaking of which .. Why don't I just go 5-color? Hmmm ... Good question. Why don't I? Probably because I'm too lazy to try to come up with a manabase that actually works. :/ But Sorin would be nice (and helps me gain life!), and Gideon's not too shabby either. Something to consider...


I gave up on Doubpling Jace, sadly. It auto-lost to Burn, which was like 70% of my local meta at the time. But burn has been kinda on the decline, so maybe I should dust it off at some point and give it another whirl.

I've defaulted to Jund, since it's a deck that is both familiar and competitive. It's not terribly exciting (or even a little exciting), just solid.

However, I am interested in trying some new things, especially in Blue. Grixis Control looks like a blast, with ALL the two-for-ones. Or more, with Snapcaster Mage and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy. There are blue/white Sun Titan lists out there that look like fun, too, as well as the Naya Company deck. Basically, I want to sleeve up a bunch of cards that all say "2 4 1" on them.


I'm still having a blast playing Nic Fit Pod. It's so ridiculous and so much fun. I worked in the Melira combo, too, which is actually not that hard to assemble with Sidisi, Undead Vizier maindeck. Most of the time I still win with Thragtusk beats though. Okay, that's not true. Most of the time I don't win. But when I do, I Thragtusk.


If the sections about playing seem relatively short, it's because this is what I've been doing the most of. I'm more or less the official Judge Manager at my LGS now, and I'm often the only one available to do FNM. It's got its own challenges, too, like trying to figure out how to get judges assigned to various events, juggling floor judges with my counterpart at a different LGS, dealing with judges who aren't as reliable as others, and working with judge candidates.

On top of that, there's monthly-or-so larger events, and the semi-monthly PPTQs. So many PPTQs. But I always enjoy doing it. Seeing new stores, working with other judges, meeting new players, facing new logistical challenges, etc. It's always an adventure.

This last weekend I had an Achievement Unlocked moment: Head Judged a Competitive event at Misty Mountain Games, my first home store after I started playing Magic again. Ever since I got interested in judging, I'd been wanting to head judge something big[-ish] there, and this weekend I got to do so. Unfortunately, it was kinda by default, since the originally scheduled HJ was unable to make it through no fault of his own. And I wasn't really prepared to HJ, so I did a decent amount of "winging it" in the beginning. My opening announcements were sketchy, and my L1 floor judge was a little lost at first, and consequently lacking in confidence in my HJ abilities. But I recovered nicely after a round or two, and the rest of the event seemed to go very well. I had a good time doing it, and it was sweet being able to bestow one of my local players with the State Champion medal .. even if he was playing Burn. <_<

In Conclusion

Well, that's all I got for now. Thanks for reading!

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