Tribal Thriftiness #95 – Crypt Combo

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Tuesday, December 22nd – Dave plunges into Friday Night Magic with a deck that’s heavy on results, but light on the purse strings.

Recently, I haven’t had much of a chance to actually PLAY Constructed Magic. The last couple of months have been taken up with a lot of travel, and while I imagine I could have found exotic locations in which to play, I was perfectly content doing a lot of thinking about Magic, without the playing. I even skipped States – ahem, “the 2009s” – because the new scheduling of States is a little too close to my wife’s birthday. When I was available to play Magic down at the local FNM, it had been draft night the times I had been down there.

So when I got a shot to play Standard down at FNM this past weekend, I jumped on it.

The problem was, I had nothing built. I still hadn’t even taken apart my Green-White “Little Kid” deck from the last PTQ I played in – or the “Mostly” Mono Black Control deck I played at the Front Range Team Challenge 2. I had perused some of the results for States for last week’s article showcasing some of the low-cost success stories from the tournaments around North America, but I still didn’t really have a good grasp on what types of decks were popular in Standard, and I had no idea about what was going on in the local metagame down at Compleat Games and Hobbies downtown.

I decided I had two options. On one hand, I could play it safe, play something somewhat well known with a good chance of success. In the past, I would never do this, mostly because the types of decks that were the “Decks to Beat” in the past weren’t my style, but Jund is really about turning guys sideways, and I’m a big fan of that. On the other side, I could play one of the decks I had written about in the past couple of weeks to bring you, the faithful reader, a little less theory and a little more practice.

Yeah, that’s what I went with.

Last week, you’ll recall that I was intrigued by the combo stylings and transformational sideboard of Chris Daigle’s Top 8 “Vampires” deck from Montreal:

I made minor changes based on my thoughts from last week’s column… and probably a little from having no clue about the deck. I didn’t like the Doom Blades from Chris’s deck because it’s dead in so many matchups – Jund, Jacerator, Vampires – and replaced them with Sign in Blood. I mixed up the Vampire mix in the sideboards due to actual contents of Vampires on-hand. And, as a last minute switchup, I took the fifteenth slot in the sideboard and took out the Eldrazi Monument I had there and replaced it with a Sorin Markov. I realized that stuff like Safe Passage would actually stop my awesome high-powered Consume Spirits – but Sorin provided an unstoppable source of damage, presuming he resolves.

Here’s what I ended up dragging into FNM:

Rare Cost Summary:
Crypt of Agadeem ($2.99 x 4 = $11.96)
SB Malakir Bloodwitch ($4.99 x 4 = $19.96)
SB Vampire Nocturnus ($14.99 x 4 = $44.97)
SB Sorin Markov ($13.99 x 1 = $13.99)

All the Hot Action

Round 1 versus Mono-Red

My opponent keeps a one-land six after mulliganing, and fails to draw another land for quite a bit. I stockpile removal and just keep cycling until I amass enough mana to kill him in one shot. I transform since I know he is likely mono-Red and I want to have Vampire Hexmage and a chance to race him, but I completely mis-sideboard (taking out a mix of cyclers and land-cyclers) and get stuck on two land, unable to find a third land. For game 3, I side back in the land cyclers to make sure I hit my land drops, and curve out into a Nocturnus to take him down. 1-0.

Round 2 versus Blue-White Control

Nick has built a deck to counter the local metagame, which is infested with mono-Red decks like the one I played in round 1. Deft Duelist and Wall of Denial are great against them, but not so much against me. Game 1, I fail to find a Crypt, but luckily I draw all four of my Consume Spirits. I handle an early Deft Duelist and start to nickel-and-dime him with the first two, but he feels he MUST counter the third one (and he definitely needed to counter either three or four) – this gives me time to draw a Crypt and take him down with the last one. In game 2, I transform, and a combination of Malakir Bloodwitches and Consumes take him down. 2-0.

Round 3 versus Jund

I handle his slow start in game 1 with enough lifegain to allow me to draw into the Consume Spirit. I decide not to transform for game 2 because I don’t think I can outrace him if he’s going first and I want to slow-roll the transformational sideboard if I need it for game 3. Well, I need it for game 3, as he gets a pretty decent curve and I make a HUGE mistake by killing a Sprouting Thrinax with an Oran-Rief trigger on the stack. Dur. In game 3, I transform, but he gets an early Necrogenesis (yup) that allows him to create a bunch of blockers until his bigger guns get online. 2-1.

Round 4 versus Jund

In the middle of our match, someone at Friday Night Magic has a fainting spell that looks a lot like something worse. In the midst of paramedics and a lot of concern, I really have no idea what happened in this match. I know that Paul got some very good curves and a lot of Blightnings. 2-2.

Round 5 versus Naya

I’ve played Dave quite a few times in the past, and these games are always good. Game 1 sees him stall on mana as I (I guess wisely) take out an early Noble Hierarch, which keeps him from the second White source he needs to cast the multiple Baneslayer Angels in his hand. In game 2, things look dire until I remember that I can use Consume Spirit as a removal spell rather than just hold onto it to win a game – so I take out a threatening Baneslayer with it and start to clear his board using multiple Gatekeepers. We both play draw-go a lot until I draw a couple of Sign in Bloods, and they help me dig to the winning Consume Spirit. 3-2.

Quick thoughts about the deck:

* I love the maindeck and it works great. It’s slow for a combo deck, but there’s so much to do during the course of a game that it’s never just about counting up creatures in the graveyard and digging for the Consume Spirit.

* The transformational sideboard, while cool, still kinda puzzles me. The first thing people asked me was, “What do you transform against?” I used it mostly to give a different look to decks that could sideboard in problematic cards against me – Relic of Progenitus or Ravenous Trap in some cases – but I also transformed against decks that were capable of countering the huge Consume Spirits, like the Blue/White deck earlier. But I think I would prefer a more functional sideboard that would actually help against problematic decks.

* It really has no recourse against Jund, I don’t think. Granted, the Jund decks I played were siding in between seven and nine cards against me, but the problem was that the cards they were siding in against me were good no matter what. If I stayed in the combo configuration, Jund Charm ate the graveyard and Goblin Ruinblaster blew up the Crypts; if I pulled in the Vampires, Jund Charm killed a bunch of Vampires and the Ruinblaster still killed the Crypt, slowing down the offense and especially stunting any rebuilds. Maybe what I really need is an anti-Jund transformational sideboard. I wonder what that would look like …

The Anti-Jund Sideboard

The first thing I’m trying out is definitely going to be Wall of Bone. I’ve been talking about him for what seems like forever, and he really seems hearty in this metagame. A 1/4 regenerator stops a lot of incoming damage and is hard to remove by just about every deck, surmising that you have a black mana open. Jund’s only option is Terminate, and it’s likely that they’d sideboard out useless creature removal against this deck. Second, I’d like some sort of board-sweeper for the little weenie creatures that seems to clog up the board – either Infest or Marsh Casualties. Since I’m unfazed by my own creatures going to the graveyard (and the only creature it kills is Gatekeeper, who has already done his job), it will probably be Infest. I know I want to keep Malakir Bloodwitch as a big unstoppable beater against counterspell decks and white control, so there’s probably one good slot left. I’m thinking either Mind Rot to proactively fight Blightning, or Duress itself. I’ll take any suggestions in the forums, though – and stay tuned for more adventures with this deck after the holiday season.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas! And I hope Santa brings us all packs of Zendikar stuffed with goodies.

Until next week…


dave dot massive at gmail and davemassive at twitter and facebook