1800 Or Bust!: Thanks, Omeed!

What a difference a Type II Pro Tour makes. How many articles are out there right now written by the Pros? How many different versions of decks can we look at when building our own versions and test gauntlets? Just how clearly are the Tier One decks defined? And all this thanks to a Pro…

What a difference a Type II Pro Tour makes. How many articles are out there right now written by the Pros? How many different versions of decks can we look at when building our own versions and test gauntlets? Just how clearly are the Tier One decks defined?

And all this thanks to a Pro Tour? Well, not all of it.

The States gave us a very good preview, whilst those of us who play Type II regularly could see decks played and talk to their creators, asking questions about obscure card inclusions like how decks coped with third-turn Blastoderms and Armageddons, and how many maindecked Misdirections did they have?

One thing we can say for certain is that the Chicago has brought us some concrete proof of the good and mediocre decks out there from the best minds in the game – and to a fan of Type II like me, that’s a good thing. So I’d like to say a big thanks to Omeed for starting the ball rolling and showing us all that players can make a difference. Wizards does listen to us if we show them that enough of us want something. Thanks, Omeed.

On the home side, I’m happily in my house and have started buying things to put other things in, on and under. Having lived in fully furnished flats and houses for seven years and buying only bookcases as a result, it’s a real eye-opener when you have to get a bed, some chairs, and things to put your clothes in. THEY’RE SO EXPENSIVE. I’ve been spending hours trying to find stuff I can afford and have even ended up nipping over to Ikea to buy a few things. Yes, I already know that I’m not a beautiful and unique snowflake, thank you; you don’t have to tell me again.

With all of this going on, Magic has been taking a bit of a back seat (but then, so has playing Asheron’s Call, building a website for our new monarchy on Leafcull, and getting better at Tekken Tag Tournament on the PS2) but I’ve still started putting some of my plan to get better at magical cards into action.

Firstly, I’ve been reading all of the Magic sites out there I can, every day. I used to read The Dojo, then I swapped to Star City when The Dojo went through its bad patch a while back (but thanks to Sensei Chris, it seems to be back on track these days). Now I read Star City, The Sideboard, The Dojo, Mindripper, New Wave, and a few others. I read every article and every word of every tournament report.

I’m not really interested in Extended, but I now know what all of the dominant decks are, what their most important cards are, sideboards for them, and strategies for stopping them. I’m going to put a Trix deck together to start to learn to play it, as well as Maher-Oath and a few others.

I’ve also been reading all of Gary Wise articles on drafting, and I must say that I’ve started thinking of things I wasn’t aware of before. I never really thought of cards in terms of Limited, but I’m starting to see why Forced March is so good, Kyren Negotiations is pretty amazing, and Bribery is FANTASTIC. The Invasion cards may take me a little longer, though.

The tourney reports are mines of useful information. Some players mention what they sideboard in whilst others say what they took out. Some tell of their worst matchups, while others complain when they lose to a”really good matchup” for them. Little phrases here and there really begin to give you a feel for the environment.

On top of all this, I religiously read all the Magic newsgroups and a couple of mailing lists every day. Although I don’t post often (and have handed the FAQ for rec.games.trading-cards.magic.strategy over to someone else), I read all the decks, deck critiques, arguments over cards and rules questions (and answers). I’ve started to make a list of the upcoming PTQs from the UK groups, too.

I used to find out about PTQ events the week before, or even a few days before. The late notice meant that I almost always had something else to do that I couldn’t cancel (a visit to a Grandparent, seeing friends over from Ireland, or a trip to London with friends) but now I have a few months notice (in some cases) and I’ll definitely be going. I can book train tickets in advance, email people about directions (and hotels, if need be).

Now, none of this actually involves playing Magic and – as several writers have explained recently – you can’t really get better without playing. I agree, but reading does give me more ideas for decks and more cards to try when tweaking a deck and one other, very important thing: A decent test gauntlet.

Up until last weekend I had the following decks built up:

White Weenie
U/W control.
Blue Skies.
G/W Blastogeddon.
G/R Fires.
Good Spells.
Gold Fish.

Obviously I’m missing Nether-Go here, but I felt that it had many characteristics in common with U/W control… so I played that matchup a lot instead. All of the above decks (bar Gold Fish) were built, from scratch, by the rest of the team or me. By the end of this Week I’ll have the following made up:

White Weenie
U/W Control
Blue Skies with Rising Waters
G/W Blastogeddon
G/R Fires from Chicago
Good Spells
Nether Go
Machine Head

Most of these decks, instead of being built by me and the rest of the team, will be pure copies of decks from Chicago. Blastogeddon, White Weenie and Blue Skies will retain the base we already had, while adding spells that seemed stronger than some we’ve played before. We don’t have Gold Fish any more because one of our number has moved away, taking it – and the rest of his cards – with him: Hope you’re doing well out there, Andy.

We have managed to get some testing in and found Defiant Vanguard to be AMAZING. This comes in a little late after Chicago, but let me tell you, it’s great. I’ve added two to Good Spells and two to my new White Weenie variant.

The newer deck has some of the aspects of my last version (two fliers and two Lin Sivvis being the chief characteristics), whilst adding some cards I’ve seen work very well (Reverent Mantra and Ramosian Rally in, Cho-Manno’s Blessings out). Here’s the current deck:

PhatBeats White Weenie.

Creatures (20):
4x Ramosian Sergeant
2x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
2x Defiant Falcon
4x Longbow Archers
4x Steadfast Guard
1x Thermal Glider
1x Nightwind Glider
2x Defiant Vanguard

Spells (17):
4x Crusade
4x Parallax Wave
2x Reverent Mantra
3x Ramosian Rally
2x Disenchant
1x Seal of Cleansing
1x Enlightened Tutor

Land (23):
1x Kor Haven
1x Dust Bowl
1x Rath’s Edge
20x Plains

As a chump blocker, the Vanguard is amazing. Instead of chumping twice and taking five (or ten with a Fires on the table), a Vanguard kills a Blastoderm outright. It’s only a pity they don’t fly, really!

The Enlightened Tutor may come out for another Disenchant because of the sheer amount of enchantments in the environment right now… But it is very good when sideboarding (with another two Tutors in the sideboard as well). I’d also like to find space for more Dust Bowls, so the Rath’s Edge may come out altogether.

I don’t expect many people to try this out – not with all the Chicago decks out there – but you might give it a try. The Mantras and Rallies give it a real chance against other White Weenie decks out there that don’t have them, believe me. These changes have affected Good Spells a bit, too, as the rebel engine in Good Spells was based on our White Weenie deck’s engine.

The rebels in the last version of Good Spells were:

4x Ramosian Sergeant
1x Ramosian Lieutenant
2x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
1x Thermal Glider
1x Nightwind Glider
4x Fresh Volunteers
2x Steadfast Guard

I found that I needed more than just one 2cc searcher and that the Steadfast guards were quite often a problem to cast. Their ability to attack and block didn’t seem to be used too much, either, because they often sat at home because my opponent’s creatures were MUCH bigger.

With this in mind the rebel configuration has changed a little:

4x Ramosian Sergeant
1x Ramosian Lieutenant
1x Defiant Falcon
2x Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
1x Thermal Glider
1x Nightwind Glider
2x Defiant Vanguard
3x Fresh Volunteers

I’ve upped the number of 2cc searchers by one, losing a Fresh Volunteer, whilst the Steadfast Guards have gone, replaced by the newer, better chumps: Defiant Vanguard.

The rest of the deck hasn’t changed for now even though I’ve been sent a few great suggestions, Parallax Wave probably being the best. I’d love to fit some in, but I really can’t decide what to take out for them and I want to try to stick to sixty cards. Another card I really want one of is Hammer of Bogardan. Against control decks, if I can keep a few mana critters on the table, I can keep recurring it until my opponent dies. Hammer is GREAT.

So, hopefully some of this will start to pay off at the next tournament in January. I feel that I know the decks well, and have played most match ups. I’ve also read tonnes about the environment and have a list of tourneys of all sorts that I’m planning to attend. It’s all coming together.

I intend, at some point, to start playing online too. The only problem is, although I have downloaded Apprentice, I’m somewhat of a novice at it and don’t seem to be very good with the interface. If anyone can forward me a few good hints and tips, or a tutorial – or if anyone wants to play me and forgive any mistakes I make, I’d be very grateful.

Cheers, Jim.
Team PhatBeats.