First FNM of 2014

This week for Friday Night Magic, I ran a new BWR midrange deck that’s something of a rebuild since last rotation (I miss Olivia Voldaren and her vampire friends.) It’s primarily based around removal and Obzedat, Blood Baron, and Aurelia. The full deck list is thus:

EF BWR Midrange Goodstuff

Creatures 10
3 Boros Reckoner
3 Obzedat, Ghost Council
2 Blood Baron
1 Stormbreath Dragon
1 Aurelia the Warleader

Spells 25
3 Chained to the Rocks
2 Boros Charm
3 Dreadbore
3 Read the Bones
1 Hero’s Downfall
3 Anger of the Gods
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Rakdos Keyrune
2 Warleader’s Helix
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Assemble the Legion
2 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Rakdos’s Return

Land 25
4 Godless Shrine
4 Temple of Silence
4 Sacred Foundry
1 Temple of Triumph
4 Blood Crypt
2 Plains
4 Mountain
1 Swamp

Side 15
1 Mizzium Mortars
3 Thoughtseize
2 Slaughtergames
2 Wear / Tear
3 Shock
2 Glare of Heresy
1 Whip of Erebos
1 Dreadbore

Before going into my games, I had the lad with me running a Gr Devotion deck we built this week. He previous ran a Gb Devotion deck that had a lot of similar stuff, and a Selesnya (GW) Hexproof that I thought he would do well with but was apparently trickier to pilot than I realized. This build aimed more toward pumping mana into hydras, but as you can see, I traded off all my spare Savageborn Hydras. We’d love to have a play set, but what can you do?

The Lad’s Hydra Devotion

Creatures 29
4 Elvish Mystic
4 Voyaging Satyr
3 Karometra’s Acolyte
2 Rubblebelt Raider
4 Mistcutter Hydra
4 Arbor Colossus
1 Savageborn Hydra
3 Polukranos the World Eater
2 Ruric Thar
1 Nylea, God of the Hunt
1 Borborygmos Enraged

Spells 8
2 Gruul Charm
3 Clan Defiance
2 Ranger’s Guile
1 Hammer of Purphoros

Land 23
2 Shrine to Nykthos
2 Gruul Guildgate
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Stomping Grounds
2 Mountain
9 Forest

Side 0

The boy did well the first two rounds, putting him to 2-0 and at a higher rank than my early 1-1 record. I do think that his deck with the pair of Ranger’s Guile in it to protect the main powerhouses makes for a much more durable situation. But once you start winning, you get paired up with the guys more my level who devote more time to the game and have greater discipline. No matter how amazing a kid’s deck, and no matter how well it can suit their play style, they can simply be out-played by more seasoned folks. He had fun with it, but burnt out by the end because 40(!) people showed up and it was after midnight before we headed home. That’s 5 hours of gaming, folks. He’s a trooper.

Round 1, Golgari Midrange 2-1.

In the first match, I faced a Golgari (BG) control deck. It was an interesting build, featuring Reaper of the Wilds, Nylea, Erebos, Underworld Connections, and Bubbling Cauldron. I won the first game, never falling below 15 life, though the match went on for a while. His deck had mana acceleration in elves and caryatids, it seemed mostly to power out an early Reaper and try to hold the game from there. But mostly he kept tapping out, which surprised me. There were plenty of times had he been more patient, he could hold back mana to make his Reaper hexproof. But since he didn’t, I killed them regularly until I got a Boros Reckoner and Obzedat online to hold my side and win.

Game 2 I didn’t seem to go anywhere. My notes don’t say anything other than my life dropped sharply. I think I kept a Reckoner on my board, but he had Erebos and Nylea and her Bow running around. Trample and deathtouch get damage through, what can I say? Game 3 was more handily in my control, though he hit me with a lot of Newts early on. I may have taken a mulligan that game. However, it went long and amazingly, I was able to drop an Aurelia and give her double-strike with a Reckoner on the ground to push past the last 10 damage and win. It was quite a finale, as people walking by two turns previous thought I was hosed, but then I pulled out a win. It was very satisfying and just a really fun matchup.

Round 2, Jund Devotion, 0-2.

This second matchup was a non-starter. He was playing an aggro/midrange deck in Jund colors, but I never saw much of it. Both games I got stuck on two mana until the turn I died. The most function I saw of his was a Rubblebelt Raider, Mistcutter Hydra, and Shrine to Nyx. The devotion after playing a Rubblebelt Raider got a decent-sized Hydra and I died shortly thereafter. The last game, I should have used a kill spell rather than run out a Reckoner that got immediately killed before he ended the match.

This one was most frustrating because this is one of those people I just really hate to lose to. There’s an obnoxious and immature vulgarity to him that drives me bonkers, and he talks constantly. By the end of the match, I was really tilting, something I try not to do. I want really hard to be better at this game, and giving this guy a win without even putting up a fight was more painful than it ought to be. It’s just a game, but it’s also my only hobby and outlet.

Round 3, White Token Lifegain, 2-0

This match was fun, but it wasn’t a contest. Playing someone I respect was a relief. But for this night, he was running a silly mono-white deck he threw together based on tokens and lifegain. I really liked the interactions he was playing with, but there’s not much to compete with when I can pull off a turn-four Assemble the Legion and am backed with a Reckoner and removal.

Round 4, Golari Scavenge, 2-1

This was another cool Golgari deck. It featured Varolz the Scar-Striped, Reaper of the Wilds, and Lotleth Troll, all cards I personally like too. However, I don’t think he realized the possibilities of all the regeneration he had. There was a board-wipe I pulled off only because he didn’t realize that he could regenerate Varolz against Anger of the Gods. Anger says creatures that die from that damage are exiled, but if a creature regenerates, then it never dies. But I think people read it as ‘killed and cannot be regenerated’ instead. So that lack of knowledge played into my advantage. But generally, Obzedat unanswered backed with remove will win games, albeit slowly. He had a lot of Wasteland Vipers that kept Oz from attacking in profitably.

Round 5, Mono-White Devotion, 0-2

This was another tilting round for me. He was running mono-white devotion based around Archangel of Thune, Heliod, Ajani, and Spear. After the first game where I was once again stuck on 2 mana, I sided in Shock, Glare of Heresy, and Thoughtseize. But it was for naught. We got to a board stall, where I had a Reckoner and leftover Elspeth soldiers, but he had a Heliod and could pump out tokens. One thing for him that worked was Soul Tithe as removal. He knocked out an early Assemble the Legion because of it. It targets any permanent, so it’s a good way to tie up mana on big things that come out early, and a turn four or five Assemble has to be answered or you will lose to it.

I think I’ve realized tonight that I tilt hard when I lose to obnoxious people. I lose games regularly, but I can do it with a smile and handshake if it’s someone I respect and especially if the game actually plays out and they outplay me. Those are the guys I learn from who will chat about different options after the match is over. Or if it’s a younger player that dumps out their hand and simply gets me before I get them, that’s a good game too (like losing to the boy’s Hydra deck during our testing). I’m fine with that and happy to encourage people along. But when they’re scouting and obnoxious and cussing piles more than necessary, they lose my respect and I really want to beat them. This guy seemed alright when I first met him, and we’ve wound up paired up each week for the past month, but I’ll be glad when he heads back to Wisconsin for school.

Round 6, Dropped

The night was getting long and the boy and I were both out of running for extra wins, so we dropped. I did one extra game for fun with Devon who’s a great deck builder and was running the mirror deck, though with plenty of different cards. He and Tom were great to compare notes with, and I really liked how Mutavault played in Devon’s deck. No creatures on board, but a Rakdos Keyrune and Mutavault in the wings meant he could still whip out 5 damage a turn if the board was clear. He helped convince me that Read the Bones was rough, but perhaps a trio of Magma Jet and more scry land will smooth out those rougher starts. I think I want to lean more on cheaper removal in general. Cheap removal plus awesome creatures that win games on their own sounds like a game plan.

Takeaway

Playing out my deck more and chatting with other players, I think it’s fair to say that they’re right: Read the Bones is not good in my deck. I sided it out regularly because it was dead in my hand. While it’s necessary for me to get more card draw and filtering, Underworld Connections and more scry will be better for it. I picked up another Rackdos’s Return and a fourth Boros Reckoner, and I think they’ll both go in the main, as well as a play set of Thoughtseize. I think wrecking peoples’ hands early, then playing the unbeatable stuff sounds like a stronger way to go.

I do really like the deck. I love having value from everything I play. And you don’t care if things get killed, because they’ll just have to deal with the next big threat that I drop. I didn’t play against any control decks tonight, so that could change more of what I think. I do run two Slaughter Games in the sideboard to get rid of their win conditions (Aetherling, that foul, wonderful, awful card), but the additional discard abilities would probably be be stronger there too.

Not a bad night, and we were glad to leave as a sleet storm was coming in. Roads were gross going home and M had already texted me to be careful. Everyone in the store bid me to be careful out there too. It’s still great to know that it’s a good place we go to when we’re out to game. Other places I’ve heard about can be just terrible to players, but Village Games has really worked hard to build a friendly locale for everyone.