Who says I can’t write tournament reports?
You should be ashamed of yourself.
“You’re suspended, no tournament reports for you, sir!”
I beg to differ.
Last month Nate Heiss started running a monthly sealed deck cash tournament at the infamous Hobart house. My plan for this week was to use last Sunday’s event for a tournament report in this article.
Then I wised up.
Tournament reports are friggin’ boring.
My card pool was pretty interesting though, so let’s see how you’d build it in comparison with the build that I used to win the tourney.
No skipping ahead to the decklist either. Build it for yourself first!
What’s the Build?
So we ended up with about fourteen or fifteen players, cut to top four for a cash prize of seventy dollars. I’m only going to list the playable cards to save you the trouble of going through and rooting out all of the garbage.
2 Alpha Myr
Tooth of Chiss-Goria
Talisman of Impulse
2 Silver Myr
Tower of Murmurs
Tree of Tales
2 Vault of Whispers
Now that’s a good card pool.
Since each color has loads of playables, the first place to start is with our base. I think it should be quite evident that Red is the strongest color we’ve got in this collection of cardboard and we should start there.
Hey…! I said not to skip ahead! Go back and build the deck yourself first…
Since we are certain right away that we’re going to play Red, the best way to go about things is to lay out the Red cards and see which color is likely to work best with them. Going through the Red and artifact cards we find the following:
That’s sixteen cards. I usually run sixteen lands, so we’ve still got eight open slots. The first thing that should be screaming off the page as you read the above list is the number of cards that win the game in combination with the Skeleton Shard. Double Replica, Trike, Condor, Jens, and Enforcer are all excellent targets for recursion. Atog and Grunt also help to recur something like Jens or to get an extra shot out of the Triskelion instead of having to shoot itself to dig it up with the Shard.
The deck also wants to run some Myr, and since we have two Blue ones and a Black one it also goes without saying that we should run the four evasion creatures in the Flayed Nims and Neurok Spies. Since the deck is core Red, the mana will be excellent and we’re splashing exactly the type of cards we need; small beaters that can put the opponent on a clock while we blow up any guy that gets in the way. Playing Black also gives us the bonus of two copies of Vault of Whispers to power up Atog, Krark-Clan Grunt, and Myr Enforcer.
2 Electrostatic Bolt
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
2 Silver Myr
2 Goblin Replica
2 Neurok Spy
2 Flayed Nim
Grab the Reins
2 Vault of Whispers
I’m 99% sure this is the best possible build for this card pool. Why? Well simply because of the high amount of synergy between all of the cards in the deck. While the Green and White cards were certainly powerful, this deck is more cohesive and has a much better game-plan than any build showcasing Plains or Forests.
There were a few cards on the borderline of making the cut, and I’ll go over that now so that you can understand why they weren’t good enough for the starting forty.
While this card is usually an auto-include in any sealed deck, it just didn’t fit for this build. This is obviously debatable, but my deck had plenty of things to do with its mana, especially with the Goblin Replicas and potential recursion. I felt that having another colored creature in the Grunt was simply better as my deck already has enough late-game staying power.
Normally I really like this guy. In my deck though, I’m already running plenty of artifact men for the Shard, and all of the creatures in the deck are simply better than this guy. Turian was saying that I should’ve played him because he’s good with the Shard, but the one time I boarded him in he got Detonated and hit me for six anyway. It just wasn’t the deck for him.
Aether Spellbombs and Regress
These are a little easier to explain. First off, I’m only splashing Blue. Second off, all of my non-creature spells are better than these cards. I did board one of the bombs in against One Dozen Eyes though, and it worked exactly as planned.
This was another one that was on the verge of making the deck, and I ended up boarding it in a couple of times. It served its purpose against Phoenix and his triple Spikeshot deck, that’s for sure. I just felt that it was too clunky for the main and better off coming in when I needed more spot removal. I already had two Pyrite Spellbombs and two Bolts anyway.
Someone else was arguing with me that I should’ve splashed Leonin Abunas and Blinding Beam, but I can’t ever agree with that comment, since I’m then forced to run off-color Myr and what I consider to be a less-powerful splash anyway. Sure, Abunas is nuts with Skeleton Shard recursion, but it seems much better to run the Spies and have on-color Myr to support them.
The unbelievable thing was that my deck was only the fourth best deck at the tournament, and I still pulled out the”W.” Not that I’m saying my deck isn’t ridiculous, because clearly it is, but there were three more powerful decks.
Jeff had Molder Slug, Glissa Sunseeker, Mindslaver, and some other goodies, Phoenix had a mono-Red deck with three Spikeshots, Grab the Reins, Mindslaver, Clockwork Dragon, War Elemental, and others, and another guy had Solar Tide, Loxodon Warhammer, Triskelion, and Troll Ascetic.
Did I Hear Something About a Red Pick Order?
Just a couple days ago, Tim Aten posted his Red pick order for Mirrodin and I was absolutely shocked at how different it was when compared to mine. Now don’t get me wrong, Tim can certainly play with the best of em’ and I’ve always had lots of respect for his game. Heck, we even ran a team PTQ together a while back with Kenny the Shungfather. I just can’t understand how his pick order could be so different than mine and I feel inclined to share my own findings.
The best way to compare here is through a table with each of our orders, and commentary afterwards.
It’s about time to set the record straight on Mirrodin’s most powerful color. As you can see, our orders differ in quite a few places. Allow me to explain. Since Tim has already gone over most of the stuff about the cards, I’m only going to go over the ones that I feel require commentary of some form.
Grab the Reins
This is far and away the best Red card in the set. I think I’ve lost a total of three times when I’ve resolved this with Entwine. Obviously it has a thousand other uses, which were already gone over. The only reason you should be passing this is for Molder Slug, Warhammer, or possibly Crystal Shard. Even if you’re not Red, you should always take it and splash, it’s that good.
I feel bad rating this guy as high as I do on the list, as he really hasn’t performed when I’ve had him. I’ve also had him plenty of times, in optimal decks, with five or more Artifact Lands for fuel. Other people have had success though and he’s very annoying to play against, so I guess he’s at least partially worthy.
This dude is just huge. How Tim has him rated below Spikeshot and Bosh is beyond me, as he usually comes out and uses his ability once or twice to break up your opponent’s defenses while also adding a large attacker to your team. He’s not exactly easy to kill either.
When I saw how low this was on Timmy’s list, I almost spit a mouthful of Pepsi all over my computer. This card is just ridiculous. It either takes out some large creature (think Fangren Hunter) or it goes to the dome. Oh, and yeah, it’s a two-mana instant and you’re always going to have plenty of sacrificial lambs for it. I’ve taken it over Spikeshot on numerous occasions and been happy with it every time. It’s less conditional than the Goblin, since it doesn’t require Equipment and it’s also a better splash if you get cut off.
Electrostatic Bolt, Detonate, and Shatter
Hmm, can’t say I agree here either. Bolt is the nut high in terms of removal in the format and can take down almost anything for only one mana. Sure, Shatter is more versatile in that it can kill non-creatures, but Bolt is just the more efficient card. It also kills annoying things like Spikeshot and Skyhunter Cub too…
I think everyone agrees that Shatter is better than Detonate. One thing that hasn’t been talked about is what happens when Red is your splash color. At that point Detonate becomes better because you’ll be casting it later in the game and the damage is quite good at that point.
Huh? This guy is excellent in the format. Very few men can stand up to him, and if he starts getting through, the game is sure to be over quickly.
Granite Shard and Slith Firewalker
I haven’t had much success with the Shard, but I realize that it’s a fine card anyway. I have, however, had an insane amount of wins due to Firewalker on turn 1. Yes, it’s unlikely, but the guy is fine late game too because you can always find a way to sneak him in.
Ogre Leadfoot and Hematite Golem
Both creatures are fine Red men, but I prefer the Leadfoot simply because he always gets through. A Protection from Artifacts creature or a Shatter after being pumped too often stops Hematite cold. This could just be a matter of personal preference.
We actually only ended up agreeing on three cards in the entire list, but some of the cards are close enough that it doesn’t matter. I’ve played Red in a good majority of my drafts though, and I’m almost certain that my order is as close as you can get to the correct one.
This isn’t an attempt to say that Tim’s pick order is utter garbage either, I just disagree with it a lot and wanted to offer my own opinion on the matter. Tim’s as good a man as they come and I wouldn’t challenge his order unless I really had issues with it.
So What’s on the Horizon?
Since I’m finally done with my fall semester of college, you can expect to see some creative article topics in the coming weeks. I’ve got a lot of good ideas, so it’s merely going to be a matter of getting them down in writing.