Thursday, October 13, 2011

U/W Combo for Champs 2011

There are actually a few things to take into consideration if you are planning on playing this deck either at FNM or the 2011s.  This article assumes you read the first, hastily posted version from Monday, so if you haven’t, please take the time to go back and do so.

Although I don’t usually like using lists, this is meant as an overview of some of the things I didn’t discuss on Monday, so it appears in relative order of importance.

Surgical Extraction – This card cannot ever hit Blightsteel Colossus.  Unlike the Legendary Eldrazi, the Big Dirty Robot has a replacement effect, not a trigger.  The interaction between the two came up during the Wednesday Win-a-Box I played in, and the judge initially got it wrong, despite my protesting.  

2)      Playing against discard—You actually have several cards that are fine to ditch if you get hit with an untimely Mind Rot, Lilianna, or Sword of Feast and Famine.  The first and last of these rarely come up because your guys can block Sworded-up creatures all day long, and Mind Rot is barely, if ever, played.   In order to win Game 1 you need some combination of the following cards, if something in your hand is not on this list, you should be seriously considering that piece of cardboard.  (these appear in order of priority, start at the bottom and work your way up)
                                                               i.      Blade Splicer, Wing Splicer, Inkmoth Nexus
                                                             ii.      Snapcaster Mage
                                                            iii.      Shape Anew, Master’s Call
                                                           iv.      Mana Leak, Dissipate
3)      Snapcaster Mage – Secretly the backbone of the deck.  You can and should win most games on turn 5, but in the event that you can’t, the Lebron James of Magic* allows you to go long.
4)      Transforming – I cut my teeth on EDT’s GP Milwaukee Counter-Trenches transformational plan when it came to this type of strategy, but if you aren’t familiar with it, you should practice.  In essence, you do need to know two almost completely different decks, but fortunately, they are both extremely aggressive strategies.  In an actual tournament, keeping your opponent guessing is critical.  Against someone who hasn’t been scouting, or who seems loose or appears to be sideboarding out a ton of cards, go ahead and bring in the beats.  If they know what is going on, you’ll have to pick up on other clues.  It is almost impossible to lose to Mono-Red, RG Ramp/Wolf Run, and GW Tokens in Game 1, and most of the time, you don’t even need to board to win.  They may keep in or bring in Slagstorm, but if they are holding three open every turn, Snapcaster will eventually just beat them in a war of attrition. 

Mini-Tournament Report:

The Win-A-Box was 15 players, four rounds with a cut to Top 4. (4-0, 3-0-1. 3-0-1, and 3-1 ended up making it)  I ended up taking 3-4th because of the missed interaction with Surgical Extraction.  (Yes, I could have won game 3, but I didn’t, and I shouldn’t have had to)

Here is the revised list: (only difference is -1 Mental Misstep, +1 Dissipate)

4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Blade Splicer
2 Merfolk Looter
1 Blightsteel Colossus
1 Wing Splicer

3 Master’s Call
3 Shape Anew
2 Twisted Image
4 Gitaxian Probe
2 Nevermore
3 Mental Misstep
4 Mana Leak
2 Dissipate
4 Ponder

4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Seachrome Coast
7 Island
3 Plains

3 Geist of Saint Traft
2 Sword of War and Peace
1 Batterskull
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Azure Mage
3 Timely Reinforcements
1 Gideon Jura
1 Revoke Existence

Round 1 – R/G Wolf Run

I win the die roll and keep Blade Splicer, Glacial Chasm, Plains, Seachrome Coast, Ponder, Shape Anew, Mental Misstep.

Turn 1: Coast into Ponder.  Blightsteel Colossus, Shape Anew, and Gitaxian Probe are what I see.  Shuffle and draw a Twisted Image.
His Turn 1: Forest, Birds.
Turn 2: Draw Snapcaster Mage. Play Plains, Twisted Image the Birds, draw Inkmoth Nexus.
His Turn 2: Kessig Wolf Run, Play Viridian Emissary.
My Turn 3: Draw Nevermore. Play Glacial Chasm, cast Blade Splicer.  He can’t play Slagstorm, so at this point, unless he has Beast Within and knows to cast it on my Golem, I will win next turn.
His Turn 3: Forest, Rampant Growth for Mountain.
My Turn 4: Draw Island.  Play Inkmoth Nexus, cast Shape Anew.  He scooped.

As I said before, there is almost no reason to sideboard here.  He should bring in Tree of Redemption, the Ancient Grudges, and Viridian Corrupter.  Again, I don’t know that he has Sondag’s list exactly, but you have to assume something like it.  The Grudges and the Corrupter are randomly good against my Sword plan, but have limited use if I play Draw-Go until I can land the Colossus in one turn.   I do take out -1 Mental Misstep, +1 Gideon, just because his deck only normally plays one 1-Drop.

Game 2:

On the draw, I find 2x Master’s Call, 1 Ponder, 1 Merfolk Looter, 1 Mana Leak, Seachrome Coast, and Glacial Chasm.  I mulligan into Inkmoth Nexus, 2x Mana Leak, Shape Anew, Gitaxian Probe, and Island.

His Turn 1: Inkmoth Nexus.
My Turn 1: Gitaxian Probe.  He shows me 2x Viridian Emissary, 1 Primeval Titan, 1 Rampant Growth, 1 Inkmoth Nexus, and Copperline Gorge.  I draw Seachrome Coast.  Play Coast.
His Turn 2: Copperline Gorge, Rampant Growth into Forest.
My Turn 2: Draw Snapcaster Mage.  Play Island.
His Turn 3: Play Inkmoth Nexus into Solemn Simulacrum fetching Mountain.
My Turn 3: Draw Mental Misstep.  Play Inkmoth Nexus.
His Turn 4: Play double Viridian Emissary, attack with Solemn, I’m at 16.  End of Turn, I flashback Gitaxian Probe and draw Seachrome Coast.  He has a 2nd Primeval Titan, but no sixth land.
My Turn 4: Play Seachrome Coast.  My hand is 2x Mana Leak, Shape Anew, Mental Misstep.  I have Snapcaster Mage, Seachrome Coast (untapped), Island, Inkmoth Nexus, and tapped Seachrome Coast.
His Turn 5: Cast Garruk Relentless (different from Sondag’s List), which I Mana Leak. He attacks with everything.   I block Solemn with Snapcaster, dropping to 12 and he draws and plays a Kessig Wolf Run.  Now I am in a trickier position.  He has his 6 land, and my board is empty.  I pretty much have to draw either another Probe or a land off the top.
My Turn 5: Draw Plains.  Summon up the Colossus, leaving me Seachrome Coast x2, Island, and Plains.  I have Mental Misstep and Mana Leak in hand.  He has 2 Viridian Emissary, 2 Inkmoth Nexus, Copperline Gorge, Forest, Mountain, Kessig Wolf Run.  Now that I know his list is different from Sondag’s he could have more outs that I haven’t thought of, but as far as I am aware, he is all but dead (he can absorb up to 4 poison and even shrink my Colossus more using the Wolf Run and his two Inkmoth Nexus, but then he can’t play anything.
His Turn 6: Draw, play Rootbound Crag, cast Primeval Titan, fetch two Inkmoth Nexus.  This seems like the worst possible play, because now he can’t activate his Nexus to block.  But then I realize, between the Emissaries and the Titan, he will have 11 land in play, meaning any land he draws kills me.  Of course, my own Nexus can just block.
My Turn 6: Or I can just rip like a savage cheater and windmill slam the Wing Splicer down for the win.  Which is, of course, exactly what I did.  Kind of.  I drew Probe first and went to 8, and then cast the flying golem machine.

Round 2: B/W Humans

I didn’t take notes this round as the deck was terrible.  No Liliana, no Tribute to Hunger, but it did feature Royal Assassin, who is apparently Human, along with Onyx Mage and Village Cannibals.  He did have a neat combo of Divine Reckoning with Village Cannibals, but that wasn’t actually all that great.  I had time to run over to McDonald’s and get some dinner.

Round 3: Mono-Red w/Reckless Waif

I didn’t even know this was a deck any more, if it ever was, but I won game one on turn 5 on the play when I cast Master’s Call at the end of his turn 3.  I also got to Mental Misstep a Geistflame after he killed one of the Myr with Shock of all things.  This is game 3, I lost the second after missing land drops despite casting Ponder 3 times with Snapcaster Mage.

My hand is 1 Shape Anew, 1 Blade Splicer, 1 Master’s Call, 1 Snapcaster Mage, 2 Island, 1 Inkmoth Nexus.

Turn 1: Inkmoth Nexus.
His Turn 1: Mountain, Goblin Arsonist.
Turn 2: Draw Twisted Image (which I should have sided out, I thought I did, but my ‘board had 15 cards…).  Play Island.
His Turn 2: Mountain, attack. Stormblood Berserkers.  I Twisted Image at the end of his turn and draw Seachrome Coast, most likely giving me the win.
My Turn 3: Draw Blade Splicer.  Play Seachrome Coast.
His Turn 3: Mountain, attack, cast Reckless Waif.  I end of turn Master’s Call.  He responds with double Geistflame.
My Turn 4: Draw Shape Anew.  Play Island.  I cast Blade Splicer to stop the transformation.
His Turn 4: Attacks with Berserker into Splicer and Golem.  I block, first strike damage resolves for some reason and he passes the turn.
My Turn 5: His Waif transforms and I draw another Shape Anew.
His Turn 5: Attack with everyone.  I Snapcaster into Twisted Image, but hold it and block the 3/2 with Tiago.  He Brimstone Volley’s my Golem.  After combat I flash the Image on his Arsonist and draw an Island.  His board is 3 Mountain, Goblin Arsonist.  I have Seachrome Coast, Inkmoth Nexus, Island x2.  In my hand I have Island, Blade Splicer, and Shape Anew x3.
My Turn 6: Draw Seachrome Coast.  Play Island and activate Nexus to Shape Anew.  What? No scoop?
His Turn 6: Play Mountain.  Triple Dismember my Blightsteel Colossus, dropping him to 8.  He attacks me with the Arsonist, batting me down to 13.  He has 1 card in hand.
My Turn 7: Draw Merfolk Looter.  Play Seachrome Coast, cast Blade Splicer.
His Turn 7: Cast Koth of the Hammer (again, didn’t see this in either of the other games).  Attacks with Arsonist and the Mountain.  I block the Arsonist with the Splicer, dropping me to 8 after attacks and Arsonist damage.  After combat he tried to use Koth again, which was weird.
My Turn 8: Draw Dissipate. Shape Anew for Colossus.
His Turn 8: Cast Panic Spellbomb, uses Koth, and casts Shock at me after combat, leaving me at 2. 

I really did ask for the list, as it is a very odd blend of New Red and Kuldotha Red.  He finished 3-1 and missed the cut to Top 4 on Tie-Breakers.  The tournament organizer does not use time limits on rounds, so between my game—which actually took much longer to play than it does to read—and the Solar Flare-ish mirror match, it was already 11:00 when round 4 started.

Round 4: ID with Solar Flare

We played a few games, he did not maindeck Tribute to Hunger or Sever the Bloodline—another card that I hadn’t really thought about as much as I probably should have, although I was aware of it—so that left it in my favor, and I never had to try the transform plan yet.

Round 5: Stupid Match with Idiot Judge

I won a close game one, and game two was boring because I drew the Colossus.  I was waiting around for the Looter when he did me the favor of casting Divination followed by Lilianna and using her.  This tapped him out and I had everything I needed, my hand was Master’s Call, Shape Anew, and  Snapcaster Mage as extra insurance.  I had no cards in my graveyard thanks to Nihil Spellbomb, but it didn’t matter. I revealed the Blightsteel and put it on top of my deck to shuffle it, the judge made me stop (he had been watching me for slow play) and resolve the “trigger” at which point my opponent cast Surgical Extraction on the Colossus that was supposedly “in the graveyard”. 

Admittedly, I had never played at this particular shop before, and I was a long way from Minnesota or Wisconsin, but it was very frustrating to have the judge not only misinterpret a card, but also basically provide strategy advice to my opponent.

Anyway, I tilted and transformed in Game 3 for the first time, just to get some practice with it, and I should have won that game, too, but I overcommitted into a Black Sun’s Zenith and got 9 packs instead of 36.

In the end, the deck performed very well, although I’m still looking forward to testing it online, hopefully against better competition, and without having to deal with unnecessary Surgical Extraction nonsense. 

If you want any more tips or tricks on playing the deck, please feel free to get back to me at BJSnyder8478 at gmail dot com, or follow me on Twitter @snglmaltproof

*Because he’ll get you there, but his teammates do all the work once you arrive.

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