Bonjour mes amis! Last week, Jeroen Remie and I engaged in a battle of Red/Green decks to decide who would stand and who would fall. Now, as you may know, Jeroen is this uber-Magic player of death and destruction, whereas I am this Magic player of happiness and joy. Who would emerge triumphant? Two men enter, only one leaves!
I think the attendees consisted of a lot of SCG people. Talen Lee, Rivien Swanson, and Yawgatog were all on hand to witness the match. Jeroen and I talked a bit before and after and he seems like a genuinely good guy, which messes with my Goliath metaphor. Grrr.
For those of you who may need it, as a reminder, I was playing with the following deck.
This deck was virtually identical to Jeroen’s deck from Battle Royale 9. I added the Shard Phoenixes and another Mouth for two Rimescale Dragons and another Hooligan in the board. Other than that, our decks were identical.
One advantage that Jeroen had by me choosing his deck to play was that he knew it very well. He knew this deck better than I did, for sure. This guy is a full time Magic player who has been playing with this sort of deck for a while, if not this exact copy. I, on the other hand, am lucky if I can get a couple of hours on a Thursday night to spend with an online Magic deck. I had about an hour of actual playing experience with the deck total prior to last Friday’s battle.
However, I am familiar with LD decks from times of yore, so I felt comfortable with it. Also, Jeroen does a great job explaining how the deck plays, so in fact, I benefited from his own writing. Thanks Jeroen!
Okay, as a reminder, here is what my opponent brought with him:
- 4 Gnarled Mass
- 2 Kumano, Master Yamabushi
- 4 Llanowar Elves
- 4 Trained Armodon
- 4 Boreal Centaur
- 4 Boreal Druid
- 3 Stalking Yeti
As you can see from his deck, Jeroen played a Green/Red deck again, only this time he played with the beats and a Jitte.
Now, normally a Jitte would be good, but I had an advantage. My creature base was great against Jitte (Martyr, Phoenix, and Frostling can all sac before damage is dealt, thus dodging counters). Additionally, I have four artifact removal spells main (Icefall) and they recur. After that, I have a bunch of artifact removal spells in the board.
It’s safe to say that Jeroen shouldn’t win this match on the strength of Jitte. He might win because he has mana accelerants and fast creatures. He might win because he is a great player. He might win because he is lucky. But he should not win because of Jitte.
What happens when these decks and players clash? A battle of titans or just a sparring match between dung beetles? Let’s see…
Sometimes a Pebble is Just a Pebble
Before I begin, I stupidly closed my MTGO before reviewing the match a few times to aid in writing this article. Therefore, my recollection is based merely on my own memory, and Jeroen will probably have a more detailed synopsis.
Game 1 — I just want to say this, and then I’ll try to move on. Real loud, in caps, which I know are annoying, bolded, underlined, and italicized with quotes, parentheses, brackets and these spikey things around it for good measure. This is a very happy sentence. Here we go:
<([“IN GAME 1, I BEAT A GUY WHO WON A PRO TOUR!!!”])>
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s talk about game one.
During this match, I use a little LD to slow him down and Icefall both Jittes he plays. Then I establish control fairly quickly and win with ease. I won, (Yay!) but not through skill. I won only because I got off to a quick start in the LD department and Mr. Remie’s deck did not. I Blazed him twice to get him to one, and although he killed a few of my critters, a Martyr of Ashes stuck around for lethal damage.
Sideboard — In the forums last week, I guessed that Jeroen would sideboard out his Jittes for something more useful. Therefore, I elected to not sideboard in more artifact kill. Instead, I did this: -2 Stone Rain, -3 Blaze. +1 Shard Phoenix, +2 Seal of Fire, +2 Stalking Yeti. Why did I sideboard like this?
I felt Blaze was too slow for the early game, but the Seals were better. Shard Phoenix was a better choice than Blaze against his deck. With a bunch of removal in his deck, a recursive creature like the Phoenix was simply a better choice. The Phoenix could also sweep Centaurs, Elves and Block/Sweep to kill a 3/3. The Stalking Yeti were great, and I’d play one even to kill a 3/3 of his. That’d be a decent trade on my part. I felt, with the Elves, that the Stone Rains were not as valuable as the cards sided in. I still left in two Stone Rains because there was nothing good enough to put in for them. (I was iffy on tossing in the third Seal).
I’m nervous. Before the match, there was no pressure. If I lose to one of the best magic players around, it’s no surprise, no big deal. However, winning the first game upped the stakes. I don’t want to think about it, but my mind races. What if I were to win it all? I know it still highly unlikely, but my mind often disobeys and thinks about that sort of thing. Don’t worry though, because the next game is so quick, so one-sided, that no amount of nerves could have changed it.
Game 2 — Jeroen has apparently sided in Stone Rains because he takes out my land after I get one. Boo! I’ll be honest, a few details I think apply to this game, but games two and three blend a bit in my mind, so I just have to hope I’m right.
This game is almost as quick as the first game, only this time, in Jeroen’s favor. He gets a big early bump, and I get mana hosed off the farm after he takes out my Coldsteel. It’s quick, and before you know it, 1-1 and we are tied.
Just like that, I am relaxed again. No more nerves to bother me.
Game 3 — This game is epic. It takes a while, there’s a lot of back and forth, both of us could have won at various points, and it was a lot of fun. If all Battle Royale games could be like our third game, it’d be amazing.
Jeroen drew all four Skreds this game. I drew all four Martyr of Ashes. We traded blows early. He Stone Rained my Scrying Sheets before I used it too much. I used an Ironfoot to stabilize. We traded a ton of creature removal. Between Skred, Mouth, Yetis, Hammers and such, a lot of creatures died.
I had stabilized from his initial rush after getting some removal and then plopping down my Ironfoot. Then I used the Ironfoot to swing for a while and knock him to 8. He offed my Ironfoot after I blocked a 3/3 by playing a Yeti, so my Ironfoot traded with a pair of 3/3 critters — a trade I was willing to make most heartily.
Several turns passed by. Whenever one got a creature, the other either had or drew removal. Momentum kept changing like a tennis match, from one side to the other. Then, I used my last removal spell and drew several lands when he drew a threat and it was all over.
If I had drawn a Shard Phoenix in that game, I would have won. This was a perfect Shard Phoenix game. In fact, I’ll never draw a Phoenix in any game. Since this was the Rimescale Dragon slot, I’ll never know if the Phoenix or the Dragon would have been better. (Although I suspect the Phoenix. The Dragon is killable, but the Phoenix keeps coming back).
It’s 2-1 in favor of the better player. That’s no surprise.
Game 4 — I have to win two games in a row, and Mr. Remie only has to win one of the next two games. The impetus is definitely on me. In the early game, it looked like I might have it. Early LD took out his green mana, and I played the occasional creature. He has enough Red mana to burn through the few creatures I drew.
Then my deck stopped. In five consecutive turns I drew no threats, no answers, no LD — just five consecutive mana sources. Meanwhile, he draws three Green sources in a row. Before you can say, “Well that was a fun match,” he has enough beef on the board to roll me and I’m drawing dead.
Things about BR:
I liked it. I loved playing Remie (which may have meant more for me to play him than for him to play me). He’s a great guy, and you should read his articles just for that.
It was a blast and I’d love to play again, only this time, with a little more lead time so I’d have the ability to feel comfortable building a deck of my own.
My (his) deck was good, and it had some Abe elements in it, like tempo and a 187 creature. Still, it felt less like a deck I would normally play and more like a deck I would just pick up to play for a bit and then set aside. I’m going to sell the Scrying Sheets later to recoup some of my ticket expenditures. I don’t expect to play the deck again, so I might as well drop the expensive cards.
I wish the next player against Remie luck! Maybe they can do what I could not.
I’ll be featuring my article on Time Spiral decks next week, the one I was writing last week when the BR came up. Then I’ll probably hit up the Casual Metagame articles some more.
Once again, for posterity:
<([“IN GAME 1, I BEAT A GUY WHO WON A PRO TOUR!!!”])>
I’m happy with my performance. I don’t feel like I made any major play errors or misclicks, I successfully guessed what he had in hand on several occasions, and so forth. So, I feel I represented the casual community solidly. I wish I could have struck a blow for the ages, but it was not to be.
After all, sometimes a pebble is just a pebble and a shepherd is just a shepherd. If it wasn’t almost always like that, then it would never be special when pebbles and shepherds do the unthinkable and pass into legend.
Have a great day all!