I haven’t written much recently, mainly because I have had little to say. The current PTQ season is Extended, one of my favorite formats – but between work and life, I have had almost no time to playtest. I doubt I have played more than 150 test games all season, including those played in PTQs and GP New Orleans.
I had two interesting deck ideas, but neither got tested enough to be even vaguely viable. I’ll give at least the framework on one, since it does have an infinite mana engine I haven’t seen anyone else using.
I have played some multiplayer, and built a half dozen new decks for that format, but nothing all that innovative. Instead, I have been playing favorite marginal cards, like Harbor Guardian and Sibilant Spirit. The decks have been wining more than their fair share of games, but they’re not worth an article.
Instead, I’ll just string together some comments and interesting events, from Extended, multiplayer, Type 1, Legions and GP New Orleans.
I recently saw a post on one of the message boards, talking about Phage the Untouchable.
The poster gushed:”Play a goblin turn 1, Skirk Prospector turn 2, then Brightstone Ritual and Sneak Attack on turn 3, Sneak in Phage and it’s game over, baby!”
Yes, it is, but not quite what the poster expected. Sneak Attack is not the same as playing it from your hand. You lose. You also lose if Phage returns after getting removed via Astral Slide, or if it enters play via Living Death or the like. It has a big reward, but big risks, too. I expect to see some at the prerelease – probably blocked indefinitely by that returning classic: White Knight.
Ingrid was invited to judge at the GP, working Friday early, then the GP Saturday and Sunday. We arrived on Thursday so we could see the French Quarter and do the tourist thing. Friday, I had to actually choose a deck. I had three decks built – mindless RDW2K2, Rock and Enchantress. I had played Rock at a GP LA trial, RDW2K2 at a PTQ and merely playtested Enchantress this year – although I played Enchantress in extended PTQs a few years back and have played it in multiplayer on and off since.
RDW2K2 is a good deck, but I would much rather play aggro-control and have a few more options. Rock is the deck I would play if I was seriously trying to qualify – it is solid, has few bad draws and has the ability to beat anything. Enchantress, on the other hand, is like a Triumph Spitfire – an absolute blast when it’s working, but a lot of the time it isn’t working.
As at any GP, there was a Friday night GP trial. First prize is a three-round bye – but with six to eight rounds of Swiss followed by top 8, and a start time of 7 p.m., the trial is really just a last chance to play some sanctioned Extended before the GP itself. I usually play four rounds and go to bed. At GP Las Vegas last year, the trial winner was so beat after playing until 5 a.m. that he got his three byes, then went 0-6 for the rest of the day. I’d rather sleep.
Ingrid was working sides and set-up on Friday, and she was finished by 6 p.m. At that point, I still hadn’t decided on a deck. I had Rock ready to go, but Enchantress promised a fun evening; possibly at the cost of a few rating points. It was a tough decision, but in the end, I didn’t play either one.
It was Friday night, in New Orleans. Instead of playing twelve games of Extended, Ingrid and I had dinner at a Cajun place with a live band, listened until their set ended, then drifted down to another place with a jazz quartet for a few more hours of music.
No, I don’t expect to qualify soon. You get out of Magic what you put in, and I’m not putting in enough playtesting or practice. But I had a great night.
Saturday I played Enchantress. I regretted that decision when I saw there were only 380 or so people there – a lot fewer than at the other GPs I have attended. I could probably have made day two playing Rock with just a bit of luck in the matchups. As it was, I went a miserable 4-4 on the day.
Three-color Enchantress is fine deck when it is working, but its mana base is clunky and it can get dead draws. Even so, I had bad luck with the deck. I had thirteen mulligans and five double mulligans in twenty-one games. I had no-land hands, seven-land hands and six-land, one-Rancor hands. I had the three-land, four-Enchantress draw – but had eleven lands on the table before I drew a single enchantment.
Yes, I can shuffle. I riffle and pile shuffle a lot between matches, and while waiting to begin.
I played a Tinker deck that got a turn 3 Mishra’s Helix in game 2 and turn 2 Helix in game 3. I double-mulliganed into a one-land hand, then found out my opponent was playing land destruction. It wasn’t my day.
I made only one really stupid misplay, but it knocked me out of a chance at day two. Round 6 I got bumped by a judge during upkeep, asked what was up – then forgot what was happening and drew – which cost me the Solitary Confinement that would have won the game and match.
Back to Legions for a moment. The other marquis creature card Wizards is showing off is Akroma, Angel of Wrath. Of course she’s angry – she is such a frickin’ expensive date no one will take her out. On the other hand, she could be pretty good in multiplayer. Multiplayer games give you the time to set up and the does not tap to attack ability is golden in larger games. Eight mana is a lot, but the card might be worth it – in multiplayer. Just keep a Seal of Cleansing or Disenchant around for those Control Magics.
For the record, Akroma is a 6/6 flying, trampling, first striking, hasted, pro-red, pro-black, Angel Legend who doesn’t tap to attack. I think she also has banding, plainswalk, shadow, cumulative upkeep, firebreathing, fear, fading, and protection from rules lawyers, but I might be mistaken. I never have been able to read all the way to the end of her text box.
In New Orleans, I had another decision on Sunday – play in the PTQ or the Type I tourney. Star City was offering a beta Black Lotus for first place, and a Mox Emerald for second place. I played in the T1 – and was one of ten people playing. Fair odds – although nine of us had some power cards.
Old Extended had some broken decks, but nothing like Type 1. I play TnT – Mishra’s Factories, Juggernauts, Su-Chi’s, Triskelion, plus the broken stuff: Ancestral Recall, Goblin Welder, Survival of the Fittest. I’m short one Factory, but the deck still does okay.
Round one I get paired against the only player without power 9 cards. He is playing a classic deck, which he claims he built back when Stronghold was released. He had Lightning Bolts, Black Knights, Erg Raiders and Deliriums (the original Backlash). His deck wasn’t bad, but mine is very good, and I got good draws. Stuff like turn 1 Juggernaut, turn 2 Su-Chi and Goblin Welder, turn 3 Time Walk and win.
Round two I’m playing against Enchantress – sort of poetic justice. This Enchantress tries to lock up the game with Argothian Enchantress, Worship and two Sterling Groves – eventually winning with Sacred Mesa. I win the die roll, and the match, because turn one Juggie, turn 2 Juggie, turn 3 Welder, turn 4 Triskelion is too much for him. He did stop the attacks with Moat, but I started Welding Triskelions and killed him by removing counters. Aaron Forsythe said Triskelion was his favorite card – it is sooo good.
I also found a Memory Jar that match. Memory Jar is really good when both players have creatures and enchantments – if you blow it on your turn, odds are that the opponent won’t be able to play any of the cards he drew. He couldn’t this match. I played most of mine.
Round three I’m playing against U/G Quirion Dryad – a deck which can be as fast as mine. The key here is card advantage – and in my deck that means either Survival or Welder. He wins the roll, and I play Mishra’s Workshop, Red Mox, Juggernaut – He Force of Wills. Next turn, I play Taiga, Survival – and he counters again – but I slip the Welder through. With my Moxen becoming Juggernauts, I had a lot of pressure. We stalled for a bit when he got a Dryad down, and enough counters to make it a 4/4. I played a Juggernaut. On his turn, he played something to make it a 5/5. My turn – I look woeful and say”Damn – Juggie has to attack. Fortunately, you have nothing to grow the Dryad, right?” He smiles and Ancestrals – making the Dryad a 6/6. I put damage on the stack, smile and Weld the Juggie into a Masticore and shoot the Dryad.
I love this deck.
I was the only undefeated player going into round 4, so I was in the top 4 playoff regardless of the outcome. This helped because I had two bad draws, two mulligans, two more bad draws, then drew a lot of land. As a result, I lost a match against a R/U/B control deck that should have been a very close match. It was a blow-out, instead.
Top four, I was paired against AndyStok playing a Worldgorger Dragon deck. This is not a good matchup.
Game one I lost the roll, then drew a hand with Su-Chi, Mox Pearl, Mox Sapphire, Elvish Lyrist, Survival and something random. No lands. I thought for a while, but it came down to having the Lyrist in hand. The only real chance I have against the Dragon combo is Lyrist – and usually I have to find that via Survival, which makes it even slower. I needed to draw one green mana source, and live to untap again, and I should win.
The short of it is that I drew Tolarian Academy and played Su-Chi. He played a Merfolk Trader, discarded Dragon, then Time Walked. On his extra turn, he won. Su-Chi never recovered from summoning sickness.
The next game was one of the best games of Magic I have had in a long time. I dropped a turn one Tormod’s Crypt (sac, remove target graveyard for the game.) He opened with a Duress, which missed. I topdecked Survival, and Survivaled away Triskelion for Anger. He Disenchanted Survival in response. I played a Welder. On his turn, he Reanimated my Triskelion and shot the Welder. I got Anger into the graveyard and used Animate Dead it, so that my creatures would avoid having haste. I got another Survival down, but he still has a Triskelion with counters holding off my Su-Chi.
I topdecked Tinker – then tried hard to remember whether I had sided out Masticore. If not, I Tinker Su-Chi (which puts four mana in my pool) into a Masticore. Then I shoot Anger, play Juggernaut and attack with everything for the win. However, Masticore is usually not that good against Worldgorger Dragon decks, so it was probably out. I really could not remember, so I Tinkered. No Masticore – so I just got another Su-Chi, then used the mana to cast something else. However, I soon got enough mana to get Genesis, and started recurring Lyrists and Welders for the win.
Game three I mulliganed a nothing hand into a Tormod’s Crypt and some pressure, but not enough. He managed to Disenchant the Crypt and go off the turn before I killed him. So close – but not close enough.
Andy did go on to win the Beta Black Lotus. And even though I write for them, I have to give props to Pete Hoefling and StarCity, who gave away the Lotus even though the turnout was very light. A lot of TOs would have scaled back the prizes, but Pete said that he had promised the Lotus and would not go back on his word. He kept it – although the $200 in registration fees didn’t come close to covering the cost of the prizes.
One last New Orleans story – after the main event Saturday, Ingrid, I and a couple of Ingrid’s fellow judges went out for dinner. Eating with the judges is always interesting – after a day of being called on every few minutes, they get jumpy. Anyway, we went down to Bourbon Street, and one of our number got separated. We were looking for food first, and people watching second. He had those priorities reversed. Anyway, the rest of us found a good place, and had dinner and drinks on the balcony. A few minutes after arriving, we saw him wandering by in the crowd on the street. We were yelling at him, calling his name, and he was completely oblivious. Then Ingrid yelled”Judge!” and his head snapped around.
Judges are weird.
A final note – here’s the bare bones of a deck I tried to build for Extended, but could never quite get work together: Mana Echoes and Sliver Queen. When you have both in play, you can make one Sliver token and get one mana. Make an additional Sliver and you get 2 mana – or another token for free. Thereafter, you can get an unlimited number of Sliver tokens or unlimited mana, or both.
At that point, you can kill with an X spell, Goblin Bombardment, or even just attacking the next turn with a ton of Slivers. The problems, of course, are the mana base. You could almost make it work starting with Academy Rector and something like the Sexy Rector build, but it doesn’t seem all that much more effective than the normal Phyrexian Ghoul build.
Which leads back to Legions – and the return of Slivers. Ingrid has always been a big Slivers fan, and I expect she’ll be playing Slivers in multiplayer for the next few months. We may never see the return of Counterslivers in Extended, but multiplayer Slivers looks pretty strong. The fact that the new Slivers don’t cost two mana may actually be an advantage: Powder Keg for two hurt a lot against CounterSliver. Pernicious Deed is still a problem, but that is a problem for nearly every multiplayer deck.
That’s pretty much it. I have a few multiplayer stories, but most aren’t worth the setup it would take to make them make sense. Two shots, though.
First, I played a defensive U/W deck with a ton of card drawing, and the ability to win, eventually, with a pair of Iridescent Angels. I tore through the deck, got control, dropped the Angels – and my opponent cast Bind when I activated the Feldon’s Cane. I had four cards left in my library….
The second is even shorter. A 24/24 Squirrel Mob is pretty big. It gets worse when it becomes unblockable – and no one has any removal left.
That’s enough for now. Comments always welcome.