Well, the regional qualifiers are upon us and, if results are anything to go by, the top decks are exactly what everyone predicted: Fires, Counter Rebel, Skies (with and without an Ankh-Tide engine) and Nether-Go (both U/B and UW versions). That leaves those of us who want to qualify a simple decision: Pilot a tried and tested deck, or take our own.
If the sole purpose of the regionals is to qualify for the nationals, does it really matter if you’re not playing your own deck that day? After all, if you qualify you get to play your deck at the nationals! Three years ago I qualified with my own deck and played it at the nationals, going 2-4 on Standard day. Two years ago I qualified with my own deck and went 3-3. Last year, I couldn’t get my deck working and qualified with Replenish, only to bomb out of Standard day with a still-unfinished creation of my very own. What did that accomplish?
Maybe I should just play a net deck to qualify and a net deck at the nationals if I want to do well, instead of wallowing in a self-perpetuated arrogance that my decks are as good as those on the net?
[I like that word… I really do.]
I know that my decks aren’t as tuned as the net decks out there, any other belief wouldn’t just be arrogant, it would be a form of delusion unseen by modern man. I know that the net decks out there are VERY well tuned against the other net decks. What keeps me going is the belief that I can play my creations better than I play net decks because I understand my creations better, and the net decks aren’t ready for me.
How about a compromise? I could take a net deck and modify it until I understand all of the creature choices, how to sideboard, what to sideboard and what plays to make in certain situations – then maybe go back to the net deck and see how that performs. Okay, everyone will have sideboard options against me, everyone will have played against me without even seeing me before – but I’ll have the same advantage… Unless they go rogue, that is – then they have the advantage.
So will the pros go rogue? Will they play something other than the current Tier 1 decks?
Groups of pros are out there right now working on decks we haven’t seen yet that beat all the top decks out there – at least, that’s what they’re trying to do – I think. They did last year, and the year before. Why should this year be any different?
Back to the question: To net deck or not to net deck? Hmm. Difficult one. I really want to go to the Nationals again, but I don’t like playing any of the net decks. Fires seems to have the uncanny ability to stall, Counter Rebel will take too much time to master, as will Nether-Go. Blue Skies? I just don’t like it.
So, should I take Good Spells? Well, what are people sideboarding against at the moment? Counter REBEL and Fires with all its GREEN creatures. What is Good Spells made up of? Take a guess.
Are there any other decks I could take?
Well, G/W is fun but suffers from some of the same problems as Fires, everyone and their mum are sideboarding against Green (Perish is pretty good I hear). On the other hand it’s much easier to play than Good Spells and doesn’t seem to stall as much as Fires (but can’t win as quickly either).
So, there am I, once again looking for something I want to play this year that has a chance.
Enter David Price.
Did anyone read David’s article on Sideboard a while back? If not, check out the link below:
In it Dave discusses the red beat down decks of the past and finishes with an idea for post Invasion Type II, here it is:
Pretty aggressive, eh? Lots of burn there, too. But how does it handle the decks of the day? I’ll tell you. It kills Blue skies. It can beat Counter Rebel, depending on what’s in their sideboard and it can beat Fires… If the Fires player mulligans down to five and sees no Blastoderms or Bursts.
The problem is the size of creatures in Fires. You need two or even three burn spells to kill some of them, and Mr B. Derm can’t be the target of spells or effects – HELP!
My answer to this was to wonder how you could slow Fires down: Tangle Wire is the answer I came up with. Four Tangle Wires. I also wanted to play with the creatures a little so that I could fit Flametongue Kavu (a "four power for four mana creature" sounds good) and a few more two-power creatures.
Here’s the deck I came up with.
A few 3 cc spells have come out for the Tangle Wires, one Skizzik to keep the number of 4 cc spells down and the Raging goblins have come out altogether. This slows the deck down a little, but hopefully the Tangle Wires will slow them down more.
Last Wednesday I sat down opposite my teammate Alan Dexter and started to play. We played this deck (without sideboarding) against his Fires deck (you can find the listing in my last article). After three games I was 3-0 up.
I started to take strange hands to see what happened: What if there is only one land but three 1 cc spells? What if I don’t have some 1 cc burn? What if I have no creatures? I lost a few games, but after two hours I had won more than half of the games we had played.
Why was I winning? Seal of Fire, Shock, Tangle Wire and Rishadan Port were why I was winning. Denying the Fires deck its mana and attacking every turn for two or two points of damage before finishing them off with a Ghitu Fire, a recalled Hammer, or a Seal and an Urza’s Rage. Boy does this deck have a lot of burn.
More importantly, I identified some cards that weren’t helping so much. Flametongue Kavu was one of them, and Skizzik was often too expensive. I needed a creature that could stick around for a few turns, and you have to pay five mana to get that from Skizzik. On the other hand, he does block and kill Blastoderms. I also found that I wasn’t using the Kris Mage’s ability very much.
We then started to sideboard. I had a few ideas I wanted to try out (Squee and Flowstone Wall) whilst Alan bought in his Simoons and Hull Breaches to try to kill the Wires and Idols. We played for a bit more and I still won the majority of games. The walls didn’t help, though, only blocking one Blastoderm for more than one turn – and I often found myself wishing I had more small attacking creatures to continue pressure I had applied. Squee worked quite well with the Kris Mage and Necropolis – but again for three mana I wanted a 3-power guy to beat down, not a 1/1.
So, after all of this my new main deck looks like this:
Yup. Black mana is the answer to Fires and Rebels right now. Four Sulfurous Springs will give you a little, but not until late game – by which time Fires may just have killed you. You don’t have to take much damage from the Springs, as most spells only have one red in their casting cost. The two extra Swamps give you more reliable, early game black mana and you only need one for Perish. You’ll notice the Swamps have come out for two land that didn’t produce red mana anyway, so there’s no change in the effective mana base.
Here’s the sideboard as it stands:
Obviously, this needs work – I came up with it yesterday and have only tested the Perishes so far – oh, they work by the way. The other cards are some cards that I think will work and some cards I’d like to try out (Mage’s Contest).
When playing Fires, the trick is to always look for two land, a creature and at least one 1 cc burn spell (preferably two). If you don’t have burn, mulligan. If you don’t have a creature, mulligan. If you only have one land, MULLIGAN. It’s that easy. After then, the trick comes to deciding when to drop the Tangle Wire (preferably when you have four power worth of monsters on the board – but don’t hesitate if you think they’re about to play a Blastoderm).
I really do think that Fires is the worst Tier 1 match up for this deck at the moment as not many top players are advocating the use of Chill, whilst the number of CoP: Reds and Story Circle: Reds seems to be quite low too. Okay, Thermal Glider is being played a lot and is in a lot of main decks but he’s only one flier – you can afford to lose creatures if you hurting them.
I’ve posted this and some results to the Star City mailing list, and had some encouraging responses including suggestions for changes to the main deck like adding Mogg Sentry – something I will definitely try – and not having Walls in the sideboard of an aggressive deck. I’ve just joined the list, so I’m on my best behaviour at the moment and I’m trying to give as much info as possible to the world – secrecy be damned.
So, a net deck of sorts – but something I like playing and something that can go toe to toe with Fires. I’m going to continue to test this and Good Spells, and will be attending at least one fully-blown tourney before I go to a qualifier, so I have plenty of time to decide on a deck. I’ll probably also keep my hand in at Fires and Counter Rebel, too, in case I have to take on of those instead.
If anyone is going to a tourney over the next few weeks, likes setting fire to Elves and Birds of Paradise and likes games that only last five minutes, give it a try. I’d be interested to see how you do, heck – submit a tourney report to Star City and you could win $25!
Take care, all.