I am completely demoralized. My Limited and Extended ratings have both fallen below 1800. My writing was attacked by Tom Guevin. I failed to qualify for yet another PT. And it looks as though my magic future is in jeopardy. I need to save money. I can’t afford to go traipsing around any more trying to qualify for this and that. I will attend Regionals. Thus I have been preparing for it. Thankfully much better than I prepared for the last PTQ season. Although I had done a lot of research, my testing was far too limited. I am going to share with you my top 3 decks from testing.
Before I go into the actual decks, I will share some preparation notes with you:
Start with a concept you are comfortable with.
If you aren’t comfortable with the deck type you are using, there is no point in going. Necro-Donate was by FAR the best Extended deck. Anyone who disagrees with this statement didn’t prepare enough for last season. I knew it was the best. I knew that decks designed specifically to beat it never had much better a record than 50% against it. I didn’t play this deck. I was not comfortable with it. I had never really played it, and when I did play it I played it poorly. I couldn’t play it because odds were I would have been the worst Necro-Donate player in any given tournament. Play what you know.
Figure out if your concept has a chance at beating the best decks.
Right now, your deck needs to be able to beat or be Bargain and Replenish. And be able to beat at least two of Accelerated Blue, Rebels and Tinker. If your deck doesn’t meet this criteria, don’t hope to compete at the PTQ/Regionals level. You must also keep in mind the remainder of the Standard decks from Invitationals such as Stompy and Covetous Red.
Develop a basic decklist.
Don’t try to get fancy right off the bat. Your basic concept should start with a lot of 4 of’s. Trimming the fat and adding spices will come later. Your preliminary testing should begin with a shell of a deck.
Cut and add cards.
Things to think about while tuning your deck include: how critical is this card to letting me win the game? Is this card in to help me win, or help me win more? How many times, in general, do I want this card to be cast in a given game? How many cards do I have that do the same or similar things? How effective is this card against the metagame? What does my mana curve look like?
I know you have heard all of this a hundred times. And this is merely a cursory overview of the testing process, but keep these things in mind.
Onto the decks.
The first deck I built when I started thinking of t2 was Negator. I hadn’t played any type 2 in a long time. The deck I had had the most success with late in the Urza’s Block qualifier season was Negator. So I gave it a shot. I made some errors in my preliminary list. I used Vendetta, when Snuff Out is strictly better. I forgot to put Lurking Evil in. I didn’t use Port.
Here is my current list:
I like this deck for a couple of reasons. First I love the synergy of Ankh with Rain and Port. And of course you can get the explosive Ritual draw. This deck, while aggressive by nature, can also limit your opponent’s resources, preventing him from coming back.
After building the preliminary version of this deck and getting smashed, I again thought back to dominant decks in Urza’s Block. Of course my thoughts turned to Squirrel Prison. I thought to myself, what could really break this deck? Academy Rector. This thought opened a floodgate of possibilities. Rector offers the same options Enlightened Tutor offered to the Ped Bunn Oath deck. Here is the list I settled on:
4 Llanowar Elf
4 Birds of Paradise
3 Vine Trellis
3 Deranged Hermit
1 Rising Waters
4 Academy Rector
2 Seal of Cleansing
4 Adakar Wastes
4 High Market
3 Treetop Village
2 Faerie Conclave
2 City of Brass
1 Gaea’s Cradle
The hardest part of this deck is the mana. Although I have yet to have trouble, I know the mana is fragile. I had Trade Routes to protect against land destruction in general and Dust Bowl specifically, but it didn’t make the final cut. This deck will have troubles against Bargain. It simply cannot lock fast enough. And 4 counters most likely will not be enough. This should have a decent shot against most other decks.
My final thoughts turned to Sped Red. I remembered Jamie Parke’s success and my almost there finish in the MeatGrinders last year. So I decided to see what I could do with the deck. I started just trying straight swaps. Kris Mage for Fanatic, Dust Bowl for Wasteland, Sandstone Needle for Ancient Tombs. The loss of pup hurt the original concept too much. It was clear the deck needed a redesign. Here is my current list:
4 Stone Rain
4 Avalanche Riders
4 Seal of Fire
2 Hammer of Bogardan
2 Keldon Vandal
3 Fire Diamond
4 Rashidan Port
4 Sandstone Needle
3 Ghitu Encampment
2 Dust Bowl
1 Rath’s Edge
The 4 Shocks and 4 Seals will give you a shot against Bargain. The will make them think and slow them down as you whittle their land away. the creature control along with the resource control make this deck very powerful. A major problem with this deck is the trouble it will have with Replenish. Tinker will present problems pre sideboard as well.
I hope these decks make it into your testing rotation, and I hope you find them fun as well as competitive. Until next time…
Have a blast!