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Magic update - Phil's Rambling Rants
August 10th, 2013
09:21 pm

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Magic update
I have failed to update about my magic results for a few weeks. If I tell myself I'm supposed to catch up, the job will be far too big and I'll just blow it off. So I'll just talk about the two events in the last 25 hours.

For FNM, the format was Modern. This is my second outing with this deck idea; I've started to learn a little more about playing the deck and tuned it a bit, and I did well. The deck:
3 Deceiver Exarch
3 Dispel
4 Faithless Looting
4 Gitaxian Probe
2 Izzet Charm
4 Izzet Signet
3 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker
3 Mizzium Skin
1 Pack of Negation
4 Pestermite
1 Spellskite
1 Sphere of the Suns
4 Splinter Twin

7 Island
8 Mountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sulfur Falls

Sideboard:
2 Blood Moon
2 Electrolyze
2 Lightning Bolt
2 Shatterstorm
2 Smelt
2 Sowing Salt
3 Tormod's Crypt

The point of this deck is the infinite combo of either Pestermite or Deceiver Exarch copied with either Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki. When the token enters the field, the source of the copy gets to untap and make another token. It's extremely effective agaisnt decks that don't actively work to disrupt it, with a useful chance of swinging for infinity on turn 4 even with a generally unlucky pilot, and even the fastest "fair" decks very rarely manage to kill you before turn 4. Unfortunately, good decks include answers to the threats, and playing in such a way that you can answer their answers usually means taking a little longer to get set up -- which you don't usually have, since the fair decks won't kill you before turn 4, but they also usually don't let you live past turn 6 or 7.

Round 1, I facd Craig Cliburn piloting a R/G Tron deck. Game 1, he dropped a Spellskite on turn 2 or 3, which blocked my playing Splinter Twin, and I don't have anything in the main deck that would kill Spellskite. I sided in the cards that I have just for this deck -- Blood Moon and Sowing Salt -- and artifact hate to get rid of the Spellskite if it showed up again. I got the Blood Moon out turn 3, which slowed him down enough for me to assemble my combo and win. Game 3, I again had the Blood Moon on turn 3, and again won. 1-0. Match 2, my opponent was Joe Buckus, with a R/B/U control build. Game 1, he managed to disrupt me and smash my face. I noticed he had all non-basic lands and got the Blood Moons again, and was able to take games 2 and 3. 2-0. Match 3, I faced Miles Reed piloting RUG Delver, a pretty standard net.deck build I think. He had plenty of control and shut me down effectively game 1. Game 2, we each knew the other's cards because he'd used Surgical Extraction on one of my Signets, and I'd used Gitaxian Probe on him. So he knew I had two Twins and one Deceiver Exarch in hand, and he had a counterspell. As long as he saved the counterspell, I couldn't do anything while his Delver beat me down -- and he inexplicably chose to tap out to cast Vendillion Clique. I cast my Deceiver Exarch in response, untapped, and played the Twin he didn't get with the Clique to win game 2. Unfortunately, he didn't make any uncharacteristic misplays in game 3 and got the match. 1-2, but I had a moral victory in taking one game from one of the sharks. Match 4, I faced Larry Davis, running a mono-red burn deck. The game went long; I had my Spellskite out and played a couple of Deceiver Exarchs, which are good against Hellspark Elementals, and he ran out of gas while I kept drawing everything except the red half of my combo. I'd seen his hand, he had two Lava Spikes in hand, and I had 6 life -- but he said he thought I could deflect the spike to Spellskite. I didn't think Spellskite could block a "target player" effect. But I finished the combo before he finished me. Game 2, he sided in Dragon's Claw -- a mistake, since my deck wins with infinite damage -- and I assembled the combo in more timely fashion. 3-1. Match 5, I faced James Manrique piloting a R/U storm deck. It's amazing to watch Storm combo off, but it still means I lost game 1. Fortunately for me, James kept 1 land hands in games 2 and 3, and both times I assembled my combo before he recovered from lack of mana. And the event was over, and I was 4-1. I ended up 3rd overall, winning 3 packs of M14 and a pack of Modern Masters in the door prize. The MMA pack had Yosei, Lightning Helix, Krosan Grip, and a foil Vivid Creek. The first M14 pack had a Kalonian Hydra (still holding at $40); the second had a Darksteel Forge ($5), and I should have stopped there because the third pack was crud. Still, over $60 worth of cards in my prize packs -- not bad at all.

I want to get more Spellskites and more Pact of Negations, the fourth Deceiver Exarch (possibly in place of the 4th Pestermite, possibly just 8 blue pieces), and of course upgrade the land base by adding 4 Scalding Tarns; unfortunatelt the latter are up to $50 a pop. I'd also like to have Surgical Extraction; I like being able to see my opponent's hand without paying mana. Even doing all of this, I won't have much game against decks like Miles', but I have some hope of doing decently if not actually coming in 1st.

Today, I played in the M14 Game Day event. I had totally forgotten about Game Day, despite it being on the calendar, until Dave said last night that there would be no afterdraft because he had to open the store in the morning for Game Day. I haven't opened most of my M14 because I want to play sealed or draft with it, not just crack it, and I haven't built anything or learned anything clever about the new Standard environment, but I decided to come out anyway. I figured I wouldn't do well with any deck I could field, so I should at least play a fun deck, so I ran my Werewolves. I have played this deck at FNM but I don't seem to have written about it; I made a couple of sideboard tweaks but kept the same main deck I've been going to for casual fun for a few months.

The deck:
1 Clan Defiance
1 Daybreak Ranger
1 Full Moon's Rise
4 Ghor-Clan Rampager
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Immerwolf
4 Instigator Gang
3 Legion Loyalist
4 Mayor of Avabruck
2 Mizzium Mortars
4 Moonmist
4 Reckless Waif
1 Scorned Villager
3 Searing Spear

4 Forest
3 Kessig Wolf Run
9 Mountain
4 Rootbound Crag
4 Stomping Ground (borrowed 2 of these, I only own 2 -- Thanks, Miles!)

sideboard:
1 Domri Rade
1 Full Moon's Rise
1 Garruk Relentless
3 Glaring Spotlight
1 Grafdigger's Cage
1 Ground Seal
1 Gruul Charm
2 Naturalize
2 Pillar of Flame
1 Pithing Needle
1 Skullcrack

Round 1, Isiah Dominguez was playing a blue/white controlly build that didn't seem to have many good cards. I rolled over him easily, 1-0. Match 2, Miles Reed was playing B/G deck starring Desecration Demon, Lifebane Zombie, Scavenging Ooze, and way too much removal. I discovered that I have no way of dealing with Desecration Demon, having removed the one copy of Crushing Vines that I'd had in my board, foolishly thinking that it was mainly there for artifact hate that I didn't need. Oops, I guess "destroy target creature with flying" would be a good idea. My only play was to assemble an army of werewolves that could crush him faster than the demon crushed me, which I could easily do exept for all the removal. Did I mention he had a lot of removal? 1-1. Match 3, Ramsey Mcgraw was piloting Jund; game 1, my deck came out fast and hard against his poor draw and I won, but games 2 and 3, I didn't have any game against the horribly good deck. 1-2. Match 4, Max was playing a Gruul build with lots of bloodrush. After a friendly mulligan, there was a big creature battle where I blocked a Ghor-Clan Rampager with a Ravager of the Fells, he bloodrushed Rubblehulk for 5, I played Moonmist -- and put my Huntmaster in the graveyard, forgetting that Moonmist prevented Rampager from doing any combat damage. A couple of turns later he had me dead, and we realized we'd misplayed; he offered to concede (since I would clearly have won if my guy had stayed on the field) but I said that we couldn't go back to change something from a previous turn. Game 2, my deck worked as intended and I alpha struck with Wildblood Pack and Moonmist. Game 3 I mulled to 5 and couldn't draw anything good. 1-3. Match 5, safely out of danger of winning a prize, I faced Josh Green with a Boros deck that didn't seem especially strong. Game 1, we beat on each other a bit, but werewolf synergy meant that I hit harder. Game 2, he had mountains and white spells and didn't offer much resistance. 2-3. The door prizes were weak; I ended up with a second copy of the game day promo Hive Stirrings.

Oddly, despite the fact that I think of myself as a Standard player, I feel a lot better about Modern right now than Standard. I haven't done any deckbuilding with M14 cards, and while there are a couple of decks I'd like to try, I doubt I'll be able to put together anything remotely competitive before next week, and after that there's only one more standard FNM on the schedule before rotation. I may just skip Standard until Theros.

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