Yawgmoth’s Whimsy #195 – MED Anyway

Read Peter Jahn... at StarCityGames.com!
Last week, I wrote about how Masters Edition was probably not cost effective. It was a long weekend, doing a lot of non-Magic stuff, so I ended up kicking back and playing in a couple MED events anyway. I’ll look at those a little, then talk about online Extended. Online Extended is not quite Bizarro World Extended, but it is not quite Paper Extended either.

Last week, I wrote about how Masters Edition was probably not cost effective. It was a long weekend, doing a lot of non-Magic stuff, so I ended up kicking back and playing in a couple MED events anyway. I’ll look at those a little, then talk about online Extended. Online Extended is not quite Bizarro World Extended, but it is not quite Paper Extended either.

MED first.

My first MED event was — well, let’s say that I decided in advance to report the events as they occurred, in order. My first was a blowout. I’m not sure whether I misbuilt the deck, or whether I was simply outclassed. See what you think. Here’s the pool.

1 Angelic Blessing
1 Benalish Hero
1 Death Ward
1 Elder Land Wurm
1 Icatian Lieutenant
1 Knights of Thorn
1 Righteous Avengers
1 Samite Healer
1 Skyhunter Skirmisher
1 Venerable Monk
1 Warrior’s Honor

1 Amnesia
1 Cephalid Constable
1 Homarid Spawning Bed
1 Hydroblast
1 Psychic Purge
1 Psychic Venom
1 Sea Sprite
1 Shimmering Wings
1 Aven Windreader
1 Giant Tortoise
1 Horseshoe Crab
1 Phantom Monster
1 Unsummon

1 Blight
1 Hecatomb
1 Mindstab Thrull
1 Scathe Zombies
1 Spineless Thug
1 Assassinate
1 Consume Spirit
1 Erg Raiders
1 Feast or Famine
1 Mass of Ghouls
1 Oubliette
1 Phyrexian Boon
2 Thrull Retainer

1 Artifact Blast
1 Crookshank Kobolds
1 Demolish
1 Spark Elemental
1 Dwarven Soldier
1 Goblin Mutant
1 Hill Giant
1 Lava Axe
1 Prodigal Pyromancer
2 Lightning Bolt

1 Femeref Archers
1 Ghazban Ogre
1 Hungry Mist
1 Nature’s Lore
1 Rampant Growth
1 Scryb Sprites
1 Skyshroud Ranger
1 Stalking Tiger
1 Wall of Wood
1 Wanderlust
1 Wyluli Wolf
1 Yavimaya Ants

1 Kraken’s Eye
1 Urza’s Bauble
1 Chromatic Star
1 Citanul Flute
1 Dragon Engine
1 Onulet

1 Lim-Dul’s Vault
1 Phelddagrif
1 Mishra’s Factory

Instead of white space, I’ll babble while you build.

White sucks. I have one Plainswalker — but one toughness is terrible in a format with a lot of pingers (the Witches, the Pyromancer, Brothers of Fire, Rod of Ruin, Orcish Artillery, etc. etc. — not to mention Afflict.) The only White creature that can survive a pair of pingers is the Elder Land Wurm — a massively overcosted beast that may never be able to attack. White does not even include a good combat trick, much less an Exile.

Blue is a little better. It has two 3/3 fliers. It has a couple guys to gum up the ground: a really good Tortoise and the so-so Horseshoe Crab. (No Arcane Teachings — sigh.) Hydroblast is probably sideboard only, but Psychic Purge is pretty solid in this environment, because of all the 2/1 pump knights. Unsummon is a nice combat trick, or a means of shaking off a Pacifism. The downside to Blue is a complete lack of card drawing. What I wouldn’t give for a Sift, a Looter, or even a Counsel of the Soratami.

Black is even better than Blue — if this trend continues, Red and Green should be awesome! It has five removal spells! True, some are conditional, but they still work. The creature base is less exciting — I really wanted a Hyped Lemure. I am also quite short on playable creatures, so I doubt I can play Hecatomb.

Red has two Lightning Bolts, and a Prodigal Pyromancer. Sweet! It also has a Hill Giant, which is splashable. The other decent creature is a Goblin Mutant. On the one hand, I do have a lot of removal, which may clear the path for him. On the other hand, he is yet another creature with a double mana cost and a drawback. The Dwarven Soldier beats, and the Demolish and Artifact Blast may almost be maindeckable, given the number of artifacts in this format. Demolish for sure — it will be a prime sideboard card, if it does not make the main deck.

Green is underwhelming. Nature’s Lore and Rampant Growth are nice mana acceleration — although Nature’s Lore does not fix colors. The problem is that green, in this pool, does not have any combat tricks — no Giant Growths, no Aggressive Urges, not to mention a distinct lack of Overruns. Half of the Green creatures die to a pinger or Afflict, and almost all of the rest die to Shock. Exactly two survive Shock — and one of those is a Wall.

Sigh. So much for colors getting better and better.

The artifacts are fine. Chromatic Star is the first card draw / cantrip I have discovered on the list, and color fixing will be important. (Urza’s Bauble is also card drawing, sort of, but probably not worth playing.) Onulet (Venerable Morph) is a fine card for a deck with color problems. Dragon Engine is in the same category — and better if you can give it trample or something. Finally, I was very happy to see Citanul Flute. I didn’t have one online and wanted one for various casual and multiplayer decks. It is also potent in the long game. I just wish I had better creatures to fetch.

Enough babbling? Do you have a build now?

Here’s the mess I assembled.

1 Assassinate
1 Consume Spirit
1 Feast or Famine
1 Lava Axe
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Oubliette
1 Phyrexian Boon
1 Unsummon

1 Aven Windreader
1 Dragon Engine
1 Dwarven Soldier
1 Erg Raiders
1 Giant Tortoise
1 Goblin Mutant
1 Hill Giant
1 Mass of Ghouls

1 Onulet
1 Phantom Monster
1 Prodigal Pyromancer

1 Chromatic Star
1 Citanul Flute

5 Island
6 Mountain
7 Swamp

Look at this deck – specifically:

Windreader 3UU
Goblin Mutant 2RR
Oubliette 1BB

What’s wrong with this picture? One Chromatic Star to fix the mana. Wow, is that bad — but I really had to play the cards. I have practically no fat or finishers without them. Sure, in theory, I could try for a couple pings, then fire Lightning Bolts and Consume Spirit to the head, but suppose I have to use some of those elsewhere?

Eighteen lands is a lot — maybe too many, but playing Aven Windreader off four Islands, with no card drawing? I could play Urza’s Bauble, for thinning purposes, but it does not produce colored mana. I would also love to play Mishra’s Factory, but I cannot justify a colorless land.

Was there a better build? Let me know in the forums.

Match 1:

He had close to a mirror image of my deck, but without the Blue. Instead, he had a Juzam Djinn, which he dropped on turn 4. I sat for two turns staring at the Oubliette in my hand and the single Swamp I had drawn, and thought glum thoughts about screwy manabases while he dropped a Goblin Mutant and burned my guys. Then he stacked damage and Soulblasted me out.

Game 2 he had more speed, but I developed my manabase. I managed to trade down until he had a pair of 2/2s on the board, an empty hand, and we were both at four life. I had an Aven Windreader in play, and another big guy in hand. He ripped Lightning Elemental. Any other card and I would have won.

Match 2:

He played a turn 3 Dragon Engine, and a dropped a Divine Transformation on it turn 4. He also had a pump knight with Holy Strength and similar silliness. Then he sat back on defense until he got enough of his combat tricks (multiple Warrior’s Honor, Exile, Pacifism, etc.) and won the late game. Enchantment heavy decks generally just beg for two-for-ones, but look through my card pool. See how many cards can kill enchantments? He got the big Dragon Engine out both games, and I failed to draw either the Unsummon or Demolish at any time.

At 0-2, I was underwhelmed by my deck and skills (I made two minor mistakes, as well as questioning my build.) I also lost 30 rating points in two matches. I dropped.

Being out of the tournament early meant I had time to load up the truck with scrap metal and haul it off. Having an old farm means that scrap metal is everywhere, but I have been pulling it out of fence lines and so forth for a couple years. Today’s load was small, but I got paid $16 for it. Enough for a draft.

Drafting MED / 10 / 10

I didn’t run DraftCap on this one, but I tried to note my picks. I think I have listed them in roughly the order I drafted them.

Once again, I noted a complete lack of Foil Force of Wills.

MED Pack:

1 Ankh of Mishra (I want it for Prismatic, and the pack had no removal and no good evasion. Ankh Is playable with a weenie rush deck, but marginal. It was pretty much a rare draft.)
1 Phantom Monster (no removal, but a solid flier, and blue is much better in Tenth Edition)
1 Exile (removal, and hopefully a splash. U/W is okay, but I really prefer other options.)
1 Order of Leitbur (over absolutely nothing — a really dead pack. Carnivorous Plant, Copper Tablet and the 0/2 Goblin were the next best options.)
1 Giant Tortoise
1 Hydroblast
1 Polar Kraken (These packs really sucked. I was willing to change colors, but saw nothing worth taking. Instead, I cut Blue.)
1 Knights of Thorn
1 Icatian Lieutenant
1 Icatian Town
1 Dust to Dust
1 Goblin Chirurgeon (He tabled! Still crap. It occurred to me to pick lands, since the non-land cards were so bad — but the lands were already gone.)
1 Shield Sphere
1 Forest
1 Bestial Fury

Other than the Exile, I may have seen one Phyrexian Boon early, but that was it for removal. I saw no Green fat, except a fifth pick Hungry Mist. I was really disappointed by MED here, but them’s the breaks.

First Tenth Pack:

1 Snapping Drake (The rare was not quite bad enough to table, but only because someone must have been rare-drafting. I think it was an Underworld Dreams. The rest of the pack was fair — again, very little removal.)
1 Rod of Ruin (Finally, removal. I think I took this over an Aven Fisher. No Pacifisms, and no splashable goodies, like burn spells or Terror.)
1 Tidings (I cut Blue very hard, and this was my reward. Sweet!)
1 Loxodon Mystic (Well, I’m in Blue/White now.)
1 Cloud Elemental
1 Spiketail Hatchling
1 Canopy Spider (pure hate — but the pack was empty in my colors.)
1 Remove Soul
1 Bottle Gnomes
1 Warrior’s Honor
1 Suntail Hawk
1 Aggressive Urge
1 Tundra Wolves
1 Wall of Wood
1 Stun

Second Tenth Pack:

1 Windborn Muse (Wow — a playable rare in my colors. This was such a rare event that I was completely stunned. I recovered just in time to take click on it.)
1 Cloud Elemental
1 Aven Cloudchaser
1 Merfolk Looter (Fourth pick! Surprise and Merry Christmas to me.)
1 Skyhunter Patrol
1 Dehydration
1 Peek
1 Horseshoe Crab
1 Cloud Sprite
1 Commune with Nature
1 Angelic Wall
1 Holy Strength
1 Deluge
1 Raging Goblin

The deck:

1 Windborn Muse
1 Phantom Monster
1 Snapping Drake
2 Cloud Elemental
1 Aven Cloudchaser
1 Skyhunter Patrol
1 Spiketail Hatchling
1 Cloud Sprite

1 Knights of Thorn
1 Loxodon Mystic
1 Merfolk Looter
1 Order of Leitbur
1 Horseshoe Crab
1 Giant Tortoise
1 Angelic Wall

1 Tidings
1 Exile
1 Dehydration
1 Deluge
1 Remove Soul
1 Rod of Ruin

8 Island
8 Plains

Round 1

He had a Green deck, with a mix of fatties and utility, plus a nice mix of Blue and Black removal and utility. However, he had too few fliers and/or answers to fliers, and I killed him on turn 10 or so in game 1. He was doing okay at first, but I cast Tidings early on. My Rod of Ruin pinged his Dusk Imp and fliers made it through for the kill.

Game 2 I had a choice to make, and I chose badly. It was turn 6. I had been beating with a Cloud Elemental and the Skyhunter Patrol, and he was at eight after my attack. He had an Elf and had cast Rampant Growth, so he had plenty of mana, but no threats. He had two or three cards in hand. I played my fifth land, and could play either Rod of Ruin or another Cloud Elemental and an Order of Leitbur. I had nothing but another land in hand.

After some thought, I decided to rush him. I dropped the Order and the Flier. He untapped, drew — and cast Hurricane for three, then killed the Order with a Cruel Edict. He then dropped a Vodalian Knight and, shortly thereafter, a Blanchwood Armor on his Elf (the turn before I could ping it away. I had pinged a Merfolk Looter instead.) In the end, I was able to deal the last five before he could kill me, but it was close. Had I played Rod before the other flier, Hurricane would have hurt less. I hadn’t seen Hurricane game 1. Should I have played around it? Tell me in the forums.

Round 2

This time my opponent had a R/W/U deck. It was similar to my Sealed deck, in that it ran Aven Windreaders, Skyhunter Patrols, and — and this was the backbreaker — Cone of Flame. He also had at least one Lightning Bolt, an Incinerate, and a Pyromancer. Both games, despite the mana issues, he played Cone of Flame on turn 6 or 7, after a turn 5 Windreader and a turn 6 Loxodon Mystic. When the mana works…. It did for him. Each game I got him to under five life, then got blown out by Cone of Flame.

I don’t think I misplayed these games. He had the late game — he had bombs and so forth. I did deal with some fliers and the Mystic, but it was not enough. Each game, the Cone of Flame was in the top 18 cards.

Richard Feldman wrote a great article about why some bad beats stories are really the result of bad plays, but I don’t see how that applies to this one. Game 1 I lost a Looter, a Snapping Drake, and a Cloud Elemental to the Cone early. Game 2 I had him dead on the board if he didn’t have Cone — and he had to cast Sift, Counsel, and Discombobulate to get down to it. I had sided in the Hydroblast, but had to burn it on the Prodigal Pyromancer early. I looked hard at my play — for a while at least, until a MTGO crash erased the games — but I don’t see any way that I could have pulled that match out.

Let’s move on.

Extended On MTGO

I have been “playtesting” Extended online. The format is, basically, the one that will be used in Valencia, at the Pro Tour. Lorwyn is not included. Sort of.

Personally, I have been playing two decks. I have a pseudo-Rock / aggressive B/G/w deck that features Troll Ascetics, Jitte, Armadillo Cloak, Duress, Cabal Therapy and so forth. I also have various Zoo / Boros builds that are lacking Grim Lavamancers. I don’t know that my opponents are learning a lot, but I am enjoying myself.

The problem for my opponents is that I simply don’t have the cards to play Tier 1 versions of the decks. In paper, I often proxy cards. That does not work on MTGO. The best option is to play the closest approximation. In other words, although Sudden Shock or Incinerate is clearly not as good as Grim Lavamancer, they are what I have.

Let’s look at a few of the critical cards that are really expensive online, and what they do to some major archetypes. Meddling Mage is a great example — if people don’t have Meddling Mages, U/W is a lot worse. Let’s look at some prices. (I got my prices from MTGOTraders.com, which is, in many ways, the online equivalent to StarCityGames.com) These are per card prices — not per playset.

Orim’s Chant: $85
Meddling Mage: $58
Vindicate: $55
Pernicious Deed: $55
Terravore: $23.50
Burning Wish: $21.75
Grim Lavamancer: $11.75

But some cards are cheaper online than in real life:

Wooded Foothills: $9.75
Tarmogoyf: $20
Temple garden: $5.75

Let’s looks at the decks that are seeing play, according to Frank Karsten’s last recap over on the Mothership. (Unfortunately, a new recap is likely to appear opposite this article, but I can’t help see into the future. If I could, this article would be a complete Lowryn spoiler.)

The best deck online, in terms of Top 8s at PEs, is Boros splashing Green for Tarmogoyf. If you ignore the Orim’s Chants in the sideboard, this deck only runs to 300-400 tix. For Extended online, that is relatively cheap.

Boros W/ Tarmogoyf
the_bestdude (Jacek Sadurski)

1 Barbarian Ring
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Flooded Strand
4 Sacred Foundry
2 Snow-Covered Mountain
2 Snow-Covered Plains
2 Stomping Ground
1 Temple Garden
4 Windswept Heath
3 Wooded Foothills

4 Tarmogoyf
3 Savannah Lions
4 Kird Ape
4 Goblin Legionnaire
4 Grim Lavamancer
3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda

3 Lava Dart
4 Lightning Helix

4 Molten Rain
3 Char
3 Firebolt

2 Disenchant
3 Kataki, War’s Wage
3 Orim’s Chant
3 Sulfuric Vortex
2 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Jotun Grunt

The second most common deck in Top 8s at Premier Events is TEPS. TEPS loses to Boros, if Boros has Orim’s Chants to back up the Molten Rains. However, Orim’s Chants are few and far between. As a result, TEPS looks far better online than it does in major events, like Worlds last year, or at GPs Dallas & Singapore. True, TEPS can win at major events, but it is far, far more common online than anywhere else.

Brandon Scheel, winner GenCon Extended $1000

3 Gemstone Mine
2 Tinder Farm
4 Sulfur Vent
4 Geothermal Crevice
2 Irrigation Ditch

3 Channel the Suns
4 Burning Wish
4 Infernal Tutor
4 Cabal Ritual
4 Rite of Flame
4 Seething Song
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Chromatic Star
4 Chromatic Sphere
3 Mind’s Desire
2 Sins of the Past
1 Tendrils of Agony
4 Chrome Mox

1 Tendrils of Agony
2 Empty the Warrens
2 Chain of Vapor
1 Mind’s Desire
1 Channel the Suns
4 Duress
1 Hull Breach
3 Orim’s Chant

Another favorite online deck is Aggro-Loam, which Adrian Sullivan wrote about yesterday. This one is reasonably easy for many players to assemble, provided they have been playing for a while. If not, Burning Wishes and Terravores are a problem. The Devastating Dreams variants — and decks like Dreams Rock — are also expensive, so more common builds seem to follow Adrian’s lists more closely.

Speaking of decks covered by Premium writers, Patrick Chapin’s last article was on Dredge decks. I have faced some dredge decks online, but they seem to be similar to my current build: near copies missing critical pieces. I play mine just to learn how the format works, and how other decks beat dredge. I will slowly assemble a real dredge deck, but I’m in no rush. That also seems to be true of other players in the Tournament Practice room. Frank Karsten’s Wednesday article should show whether that is also true of the decks doing well in Extended PEs.

Keeping to the tune of discussing other writer’s decks, I have almost all the pieces to Kyle Sanchez’s King in the Castle deck. It has not been doing all that well online, but I find it appealing. I like mid-range decks like this. Of course, my version is short a couple Vindicates.

King in the Castle
Kyle Sanchez, GP Dallas 07

4 Polluted Delta
4 Windswept Heath
3 Overgrown Tomb
1 Temple Garden
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Ancient Den
1 Swamp
1 Plains
1 Forest
1 Breeding Pool
1 Watery Grave

4 Birds of Paradise
3 Llanowar Elves
4 Trinket Mage
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Loxodon Hierarch

4 Cabal Therapy
2 Vindicate
3 Call of the Herd

2 Chrome Mox
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
1 Pithing Needle
1 Tormod’s Crypt
1 Chalice of the Void
1 Engineered Explosives
3 Armadillo Cloak
2 Umezawa’s Jitte

3 Duress
2 Putrefy
1 Pithing Needle
2 Chalice of the Void
3 Condemn
3 Kataki, War’s Wage
1 Tromp the Domains

I’ll probably be playing more Extended in the near future, but first I have won a small pile of MED packs. I need to draft those away.


“one million words” on MTGO