FNM Hero: Looking Ahead / Looking Back

The FNM Hero cuts Delver of Secrets from his deck for Young Pyromancer and takes it to a tournament, while Adam Prosak has ten quick hits from #SCGINVI.

Looking Ahead

Magic 2014 is upon us, and I am excited about one card in particular:

It’s almost as if Wizards of the Coast saw my deck, figured it needed a little extra juice, and went back in time to create Young Pyromancer just for me. Sure, other players and deckbuilders might be interested in Young Pyromancer (hi Drew Levin!), but for now I’m going to assume it was made just for me.

One thing is for sure—Young Pyromancer plays both offense and defense quite well. Before, I struggled a bit with which role I wanted my deck to lean towards. Delver of Secrets and Guttersnipe definitely lean towards a quick game, as those creatures can close out a game quite quickly. On the other hand, Goblin Electromancer and Talrand, Sky Summoner lean towards a long game, getting stronger as the game goes on. My spells absolutely lean towards the long game. Spells like Unsummon and Searing Spear would help me finish games quickly, but I opt for spells like Turn // Burn, Thoughtflare, and Mizzium Mortars to keep the board clear while I reload.

Young Pyromancer can fit either role well. In short, I think that the spells in the deck are better suited towards a long game. My creatures are still fragile, but that’s never really stopped cards like Deathrite Shaman and Dark Confidant from being featured heavily in grindy decks. I think I’ll replace Delver of Secrets with Young Pyromancer for now.

I definitely can’t replace spells with Young Pyromancer. There needs to be a critical mass of spells, as all of our creatures are truly terrible if our hand is not filled with spells.

This leaves our deck at the following:

Thus far I’ve had the opportunity to play in one tournament with this build. I played at Two Headed Games down in Northern Kentucky, and they decided to stream all of my games!

Current Balance $49.06 – $5 tournament entry = $44.06

You can watch my matches here.

I won’t go through a play-by-play recap, as the video is exactly that. The video starts with a small tutorial on how to play Race for the Galaxy, but the matches follow!

Round 1: Bant Hexproof – L – 30:00 in the video
Round 2: Prime Speaker Bant – W – 1:15:00 in the video
Round 3: Slivers – W – 2:15:00 in the video
Round 4: U/W/R Control – W – 3:16:00 in the video
Round 5: Jund Midrange – L – 4:08:00 in the video

If you want a visual of my deck laid out, skip to 2:31:45.

After the expected beating I took from Bant Hexproof, I battled back to 3-1 before falling to Jund Midrange, which is becoming increasingly difficult to handle. I didn’t prize, and it was due to two matchups that have shown themselves to be incredibly difficult. I don’t think Aetherize will translate to match wins against Bant Hexproof, so I’m going to continue to write that one off. The Jund matchup, on the other hand, presents some solvable problems.

Basically, Olivia Voldaren is close to unbeatable. Sometimes I can force the issue and make them play it before they can spend mana on it, but once it gets two counters, it’s incredibly difficult to beat. Scavenging Ooze is a similar problem, although less drastic. Scavenging Ooze and Olivia (and their cursed +1/+1 counters) blank our removal if given an inch to grow. Turn // Burn doesn’t really act like a Terminate but is still solid against Thragtusk and Huntmaster of the Fells. Unsummon is a reasonable option, both to reset some of their counters and also to save my fragile creatures from their excellent removal.

One option I plan on trying out for sure is Essence Scatter. Counterspells have proven to be quite good against Jund Midrange. In fact, the U/W Flash deck I built last winter preyed on Jund decks with a ton of counterspells. It might be time for the FNM Hero to follow suit. In addition, I might try a fairly radical change—replacing Aetherling with Burning Earth. Burning Earth is potentially an incredible card and would put quite a bit of pressure on a Jund deck. Given that I believe Jund Midrange is absolutely the deck to beat, something like this might be needed. To accommodate adding Burning Earth, turning Guildgates into Evolving Wilds makes quite a bit of sense.

I’m not sure if I should try this change or if Aetherling is where I want to be. If I could turn into a deck that doesn’t really want or need its own creatures (other than Aetherling of course), this would be the action I would take. Siding out all of the creatures is probably not worth it however.

Overall, I hardly missed Delver of Secrets. I think that the current creature base makes my deck much more coherent. Instead of putting pressure on my opponent’s life total (like Delver does), I’m looking more to create an overwhelming board. I now have ten different creatures that trigger off casting spells, which is pretty neat.

At times I might not take full advantage of Young Pyromancer tokens. There are plenty of situations where I can neither attack nor have the need to block, leaving me with just a bunch of random 1/1s lying around. I think I’ll win a large percentage of those games eventually provided I can avoid a Bonfire of the Damned or something equally disastrous.

Looking Back

I don’t plan on doing a full Invitational report, but I will say ten things about it.

1. I went 8-0 on day 1 but followed up with a 2-6 day 2 to miss the Top 32. I played both of the decks I talked about last week: Jund Midrange for Standard and Ad Nauseam Tendrils for Legacy. I absolutely think that Jund is the best deck in Standard going forward and will be tough to beat.

2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY3CehyfUko or if you prefer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lWJXDG2i0A.

3. Most of my matches were awesome. They involved miracled Bonfire of the Damneds, lucky Tragic Slips (44-minute mark), and longshot Tendrils of Agony (40-minute mark). On day 1, Lady Luck shined upon me. On day 2, she did not. I don’t think I was playing better or worse between the days, just on the right/wrong side of variance. Overall, I know I could’ve played better, but I did not play particularly poorly.

4. Bonfire of the Damned is quite the card. The worst aspect of my play over the course of the weekend was my ability to leverage bad Bonfires into reasonable cards. I wanted it to be Mizzium Mortars so often over the course of the tournament. However, Bonfire was just the biggest beating sometimes. It’s definitely at its best in a deck like Jund Midrange that just has a ton of mana and wants random things to spend it on.

5. I absolutely loved Mutavault in Jund Midrange and would probably play more. I think value lands are awesome in a deck like Jund and something like Treetop Village would make the deck unbelievably strong. As it exists, I wouldn’t mind playing extra lands provided many of them are value lands like Mutavault and Kessig Wolf Run. The thing is that the mana in Jund is probably a little too good, so there is definitely room for greed. The third Kessig Wolf Run should be industry standard in my opinion at minimum.

6. On the drive up, Executive Producer John Douglass required that all of the passengers come up with an hour playlist to diversify the music on the ten-hour drive each way. Thus, the Riley Curran Jazz Hour and the Prosak Happy Hour was born. Billy Comminos did not name his hour. It was enjoyable enough to the point where we ran it back coming home. Highly recommend everyone in your car gets at least an hour of musical time on lengthy road trips.

7. On said road trip, a car from Kentucky spotted us on the road. Andrew Shrout decided that it would be a good idea to lean out the window and heckle us. Seconds later, his glasses decided that they did not want any part of this and thus remain on the side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. #AndrewTrout

8. I drafted my 38th different Cube (not counting Magic Online) during the weekend, Riley Curran’s combo cube. Cube is an amazing format, and I’d be interested to know if anyone has drafted more unique Cubes. Living multiple different places and not owning one for multiple years has definitely contributed towards my high number.

9. New Jersey has a restaurant identity crisis that I found amusing. One night we dined in a sports bar that had a restaurant seating area more fitting of an upscale downtown restaurant. Would you like a fine wine with your wings? Our server wearing a suit and tie would love to direct you towards the bar/arcade games. Sunday evening a diner was approached cautiously because it looked like a strip club. It was not a strip club, but sure looked like one on the outside.

10. My Sunday was spent at Patrick Sullivan house. I can see why he loves New Jersey so much, as his part of New Jersey is pretty cool. Although a portion of the festivities were cancelled due to a rainstorm, we still had a good time. Shout out to all the enjoyable people I hung out with on Sunday, including but not limited to Anand Khare, Tannon Grace and the European contingent. Speaking of which, one thing I miss on the SCG Open Series is the presence of people from other countries. I always enjoy people like Michael Bonde describing the Swedish form of baseball/cricket among other cultural oddities.