One of the skills I’m certain I will never acquire is the minor prescience needed to foresee what decks people will be playing at a given tournament.
I had thought, pie-eyed fool that I may be, that the Masques Block Constructed field would be wide open, what with the addition of a new set and a couple of bannings on the older ones. Sure, the first few top-eights I saw weren’t monuments of innovation. I wrote that off as a combination of the youth of the new (Prophecy-inclusive) format and the establishment of the Rebel and Rising Waters decks that happened at the Pro Tour.
It is true that proven decks will headline the early outcomes, but I had so hoped that ingenuity would provide the belly-to-belly suplex, into the lateral press, into the one-two-three. Indeed, this was Team Comf’s philosophy (in the same way that deep-fried cornbread is a philosophy) in approaching this session of Pro Tour Qualifiers.
However, thoroughness has never been a strong point in our team. It’s no stretch to think of apathy as being woven into our bones. Once, someone suggested that we collect a whole bunch of Apathies (because that would be funny, see) and I think we got as far as six before interest fell back to watching The Dukes Of Hazzard with the sound off and the closed captioning on.
True, that was *my* activity of choice, but no fewer than three people stayed to watch. There’s something so hypnotic about Boss Hogg’s jowls. Almost … oceanic …
Needless to say, when you’re mesmerised by the everyday some things tend to get left by the wayside. In our case, it was the ignorance of two decks.
The first of two real-life conversations:
Several Insensible Lumps of Flesh: … No.
OMC: Do you think maybe we should get one and proxy it up to test against?
Lumps: Yeah … Oh yeah.
I would have leapt to the task myself, but even disregarding my trick knee and croup the net-ready computers were otherwise occupied.
So we tested and tested, and the trusty pirates came out said "Y’arr Matey!", and everyone settled on the deck they wished to play. I was called away on family business and missed the tournament, so you can flip a coin and call this hearsay or heresy, but a large number of those present were using a certain W/G deck.
In fact, the field was even slightly more depressing than that. White-Green Rebels, Mono-White Rebels, and Rising Waters made up a sound majority of the decks. A quorum, if you will.
Actual Conversation The Second came after the tournament, and went a little something like this:
Jer: Whatever happened to that amazing blue beatdown deck we had?
OMC: It got dismantled.
Jer: Why? Wasn’t it good?
Adam: No good.
OMC: Tom said so.
Tom: Did I?
Which all points to the presence of dopplegangers or hallucinogens. After a number of theoretical shouting matches with near-ubermensch Sky, I decided to put things into practice. The result was the following:
MBC Blue Beatdown (NGE Death and Rebirth Mix)
4x Cloud Sprite
In a nice bit of continuity from my last column, this deck is the perfect foil for certain rampaging pirates. It sports eighteen potential countermagics, though the Spiketail Hatchlings probably shouldn’t count, and you’re not liable to score *all* of your Dazes. Nevertheless, it’s a powerful arsenal.
Your creatures evade, save the Bouncer. This means that you’re usually in a position to push through damage. This is augmented by the simply ridiculous racing power of Withdraw. To quote Kentucky Fried Movie:
Your creatures don’t have the impressive power-to-casting cost ratio you’ll find in other colours. Do not despair. With this much bounce and countermagic, your opponent will be hard-pressed to mount an offense.
My favourite part of this deck is its reminding me that you’re not dead until you’re at zero. You simply manage your life total so that you’re winning the race, and expend your resources only to keep that in effect. Simple in its vacuousness, yet still somehow profound.
Very Zen, that.
Blake "I forbid you to use that as my nickname!" Manders is sunning himself in the Cayman Islands, so any advice I’m giving is not only less ludicrous, but also my own.
Looking at matchups, the most interesting is that against the abovementioned G/W Rebel deck. Playing a few rounds against the illustrious TM(IV) Gannon, I swept him convincingly under the rug. Granted, this version had Vine Trellises main-deck instead of the usual collection of tricks, but the trouncing was sound. The Spiketails put the deck a turn off of its usual pace, as does the threat of Daze. If they use their Sergeants to recruit early, then they run the risk of being Withdrawn.
An unopposed Turn One Sergeant is probably game, but one can’t bother oneself about particulars. Between Withdraw and Bouncer, I feel no fear.
The mid-game is where they will unload their bombs. Hopefully, your offence (such as it is) is established an theirs is not. If this is the case, you simply ride your counters off into the sunset of victory. Otherwise, you may be meat.
And don’t counter the Parallax Wave unless you must.
Remember that Withdraw *is* an anti-Blastoderm card if they’re attacking with another critter. Block, and return your blocker and his unblocked dude to his hand. You shouldn’t worry about having to take ten. Like Keitel said: You’re gonna be okay! You’re not gonna die!
The Mono-White matchup is a little harder. The presence of more fliers, as well as more threatening tricks, puts a lot of worry into me.
As for the prevalent Rising Waters, this looks promising. Their most effective weapon against you, Stinging Barrier, costs 2UU, which seems far too late. You’re running as much countermagic as they are, if not more, so don’t fret the counter-war. Again, the stall provided by Spiketails is enormous.
I’ll be spending the week testing, and pondering the sideboard. I hope to return next week with a polished version of this deck, more matchup results, and a little faith in humanity.
I am fully ready to settle for two out of three.
There’s nothing sadder than watching Eugene Levy make a triumphant return to his film career only to throw it all directly into the toilet.