Compulsive Research – Brewer’s Delight / Brewer’s Remorse

Wednesday, April 20 – John Dale Beety wrote two articles into one: one of brewer’s delight and one of brewer’s remorse… what happens at Nationals Qualifiers? Does Landfall Naya get there?

As I write this, it’s the Friday before U.S. Regionals. I have been brewing. It’s a return to my old ways.

They were not good ways.

In Magic terms, I frittered away my college years, the time when I had my best opportunities to play seriously. I wasted them on random decks that were
different just for the sake of being different. I did not produce metagame-moving tech. In truth, I didn’t even prove anything to myself.

I just gave tournament organizers money and my opponents byes.

I’m sliding back into the old ways, and the warning signs are all around me. AJ Sacher is telling me, in a calm but still pointed article, that
“Innovation Is Overrated.”

I know I can pilot Valakut or Goblins to at least a mediocre finish, and I have those decks all but built. I’ll carry the cards with me to Regionals,
just in case I get cold feet.

I won’t.

I’m going to play my brew. This time, it’s different. Famous last words, of course. I’m coming at this from the right place, though.
I honestly believe that I have made the best possible choice for the tournament.

I’m also a thoroughly neurotic self-doubter.

I know how this story is going to start. I just don’t know how it’ll end. Should this article be about the dangers of being seduced by a
potent-seeming brew and falling prey to arrogance? Or should it be about the joy of a brew well-done and the rewards of following one’s

By the time I get back from Regionals, it will be too late to write either article from scratch and still make my deadline. There’s only one
option: I’ll write both beforehand. Think of this as the “Action” article, where there are two possibilities, but you don’t
know whether you’ll end up with Mirrodin Pure or New Phyrexia until closer to the end.

As I write, I think to myself,
Neither do I.

Brewer’s Delight

Turn 1, I play a Razorverge Thicket and cast Steppe Lynx. The opponent plays a Terramorphic Expanse. Turn 2, I play Misty Rainforest, search for a
Forest, cast Explore, draw my card, play Scalding Tarn, search for a Mountain, cast Goblin Guide, and attack for ten.

Nice Terramorphic Expanse, bro.

There’s no land on top. The opponent cracks the Expanse for a Forest at the end of my turn, and on his turn, he lays down a Mountain and an
Overgrown Battlement.

Turn 3, I play a Mountain, cast Hero of Oxid Ridge, and attack for ten more because that’s how every game goes in Magical Christmas Land.

Nice Overgrown Battlement, bro.

My brewing has led me to something twisted and beautiful, equal parts Boros, RUG, Lewis Laskin’sSanta Claus Attack, and Justin Corbett’s Aggro Valakut. This is the landfall deck Boros wishes it could
be. This is… Titanfall.

I settled on an R/G/w version for Regionals to take advantage of the power of Goblin Guide, though in a slower format, a W/G/r version with Hero of
Bladehold in the Hero of Oxid Ridge slot, Emeria Angel for added landfall shenanigans, and Plated Geopede as the splash could have potential. I tried a
G/R/W version that ran both heroes (and which I called “Holding Out for a Hero” after the Bonnie Tyler song), but the mana base was just too unstable for my liking.

The philosophy of the deck is narrow: attack and win. The wrinkle comes with the green cards, where Explore and Harrow serve not only as accelerants
but also as fuel for landfall creatures. The deck runs ten fetchlands, fewer than a typical Boros list, but the presence of Explore and Harrow allows
for some absolutely busted turns, as well as multiple viable third-turn kill hands.

That assumes no resistance, of course, but the same accelerants that fuel landfall creatures also bring the deck closer to casting heavy hitters such
as Hero of Oxid Ridge (the Aggro Valakut and Santa Claus Attack influence) and Precursor Golem (hello RUG). It’s particularly amusing when an
opponent cashes in a Lightning Bolt on a Plated Geopede or Lotus Cobra, only to be faced with a Precursor Golem. Few have ever looked so longingly at
their graveyards and wished for a spell back!

The sideboard is more than a trifle crude, and I’m still experimenting with what cards to sideboard and when, though a few points have become
obvious. The more I play with it, the better Wurmcoil Engine seems, and it may move to the maindeck. Against control, Harrow isn’t as effective
as a pump-spell—it’s almost impossible to play the card on your terms—so Viridian Emissary comes in to provide a body while
it’s on the battlefield and a piece of acceleration when it croaks. Tumble Magnet and Act of Treason are staples against Valakut, but the Tumble
Magnet is also useful against U/B Poison and its annoying copies of Phyrexian Crusader. Arc Trail and Obstinate Baloth are there for aggro matchups
with Viridian Emissary and Wurmcoil Engine chipping in, but I haven’t come to a firm conclusion on how controlling Titanfall needs to become to
withstand an assault from, say, Boros or Mono-Red.

So how’d I do in the tournament? I fell short in the next-to-last round, losing the win-and-in against a Valakut deck, but I can’t
complain. The deck served me well, and once it’s refined and put into more skilled hands, maybe this brew can go on to become a part of the

Brewer’s Remorse

I’m an idiot. No, scratch that. I’m an [insert long sequence not suitable for {choose one: FCC-regulated broadcast/pre-watershed hours}]
and an idiot.

What did I think I was doing?

Imagine a Boros deck and an RUG deck meeting at a wild party and having a drunken one-night stand. Think of the result. Now imagine Lewis
Laskin’s Santa Claus Attack and Justin Corbett’s Aggro-Valakut finding each other through an online deck dating service and settling into a
roguish but long and fulfilling relationship. Imagine that result.

Now take the two results together and fuse them like a chimera.

That’s what I played. I’m not going to share the list. I made at least one judge look at it, and he reported the experience as a violation
of the Geneva Convention. Just think creatures and no burn. Make that small creatures and no burn. That’ll be important later.

So how’d I do? I got rocked harder than Cheers. 0-2-drop! 0-2- drop! 0-2-drop! 0-2-drop!

You want the tournament report? Here’s your tournament report. Round one, I got to face Caw-Blade. Guess what? It’s still a good deck, and
a real deck. You know what my deck doesn’t like? Constantly renewing blockers off Squadron Hawk. Who knew a creature deck wouldn’t like
those? How about Stoneforge Mystic fetching up equipment… guess what I didn’t pack enough of? That’s right, artifact removal. Oh, and did
I mention I was running four copies of Harrow right into a metagame replete with counterspells? I’m a regular genius, yessirree Bob.

Then he played Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Gideon Jura, and the real fun began. I really hate Gideon. He looks so smug, and he acts like some
squeaky-clean guy, a paragon of the color white and its philosophy. Let me tell you something. That dude’s weapon? It’s a whip. Oh yeah,
and how do you, as a player, increase his loyalty to you? You make creatures attack him. He likes pain! I don’t know about you, but I
wouldn’t be comfortable having such an overtly sadomasochistic individual hanging around. Just saying.

Where was I? Oh, yes, Caw-Blade. 0-1 matches, 0-2 games. That’s over. Round two is the real kicker. I ended up playing a little kid. No, I
don’t mean a Zac Cole-style little kid master who’s beating
opponents like that young Immortal Kenny from Highlander. I’m
talking straight-up little kid.

You know what he was playing? A Wall deck. You know what a deck with a bunch of little creatures doesn’t like? Walls. Perimeter Captain. Wall of
Omens. Overgrown Battlement. Little curveballs like Lone Missionary. Sure, kid, gain your four life. You know what an aggro deck doesn’t like?
Life gain attached to creatures. Obstinate Baloth. Four more life. I was struggling to find something, anything. Draw a land. Draw another land.

Pelakka Wurm?! Yeah, it’s over. So over. 0-2 matches, 0-4 games, drop. I didn’t even have the heart to draft. I just took a taxi home.
Maybe I even cried in the backseat.

Think back to that day in school when your least-favorite health teacher invited a recovering addict to come in and talk to everyone about how drugs
ruined his life. As I stand here at the front of this metaphorical classroom, a shambles of a player, I look you in the eyes, and I say to you: Friends
don’t let friends play brews at Regionals. Winners don’t play brews. Get high on life, not brews. Finally, all hail Rachael Leigh Cook.

What Really Happened

As I write this, it’s Saturday evening, and my Nationals Qualifier has concluded. Remember what I said about being a thoroughly neurotic self-doubter?

I got cold feet.

I chickened out.

I played Goblins.

Record: 5-2. Eleventh place, six packs. I don’t know what to think of the result. I’ll put down my thoughts tomorrow.


As I write this, it’s Sunday, close to noon. I still don’t know if I made the right choice.

Playing for Top 8 in a tournament like a Nationals Qualifier or a Pro Tour Qualifier is an unusual situation for me, so in that respect, I did well,
even matching my optimistic tournament result from “Brewer’s Delight.” I took my first match loss in the fourth round of seven, where
I made a bevy of technical mistakes, most notably a “one plus two plus two plus one” situation in the second game. I
missed a line of play that would’ve dealt exactly lethal damage, only to have my Valakut-piloting opponent (working out of curiosity, not any
kind of malice) uncover it in the postmortem session.

In the penultimate round, I took the first game off my Caw-Blade opponent and even had an answer to his first Kor Firewalker in games two and three,
but in both cases, the Sun Titan returning Kor Firewalker just overwhelmed me. At the end of the third game, I was sitting at nine life while my
opponent had thirteen and staring down a Sun Titan and a pair of Kor Firewalkers (one wielding a Sword of Feast and Famine), not to mention a Jace, the
Mind Sculptor, which had fatesealed me and left a Mountain on top. When I drew that Mountain, there was nothing left to do but extend the hand and wish
my opponent good luck at Nationals.

I got close, but close got me six packs, not a Gen Con badge.

After the tournament, I took out my Titanfall list. I read over the Precursor Golems and Steppe Lynxes, and they seemed to say to me, “We
could’ve put you over the top! Why didn’t you trust us?” That’s the curse of the brewer who abandons a brew: to not meet one’s
goal for a tournament and be left wondering what might have been.

The weekend left me with more questions than answers. Did I make the right call by playing Goblins instead of my brew? What’s the best build of
Titanfall, adhering to the structure of early landfall creatures, land accelerants, and heavy game-finishers, and does it have a place in the metagame?
Let me know your thoughts in the forums.

@jdbeety on Twitter